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At University of Tampa
• Gaither 9, East Bay 5
• Wharton 18, Middleton 3 (5 innings)
Pitcher of the day
Gaither and Wharton graduated their Nos. 1 and 2 pitchers and had injuries to their projected starters. Cowboys junior Daniel Martin and Wharton freshman Tyler Garam had strong starts but pitcher of the day honors go to East Bay’s Keaton Bruce. Despite getting knocked around in the second inning for six hits and five runs, Bruce finished with four strikeouts and two walks.
Hitters of the day
The middle of the Cowboys lineup was deadly. No. 4 hitter Efley Espinal was 2-for-4 with a double, a triple and two runs scored, while No. 5 hitter Chris Minor was 2-for-2 with two RBIs, two walks and a run scored. It was batting practice for the whole Wharton lineup in the first inning against Middleton as the Wildcats sent 15 to the plate and sent nine runs across it off three hits.
Defensive gem of the day
Against Wharton, Middleton second baseman Juan Borges stepped in front of a throw by the catcher to second base in the second to hold a run at third. The senior also had the Tigers’ only put-out of the game.
Did you know?
Pool G gets it done with offense. Gaither and Wharton have pitching staffs that are works in progress. The Cowboys threw Martin, who isn’t listed as a pitcher, and sophomore Blake Hodgens. The Wildcats threw Garam, Derek Moore, Tyler Hathcoat and Bryce Martin, and got every player on their roster in the game.
“If the opportunity arises to play some of these younger guys, we’re gonna play them,” Wildcat coach Scott Hoffman said.
“We (Gaither and Wharton) are mirror images of each other right now.” — Hoffman
“They are a competitive team that’s well-coached. They are feisty, they play to the last out.” — Cowboys assistant Nelson North on East Bay