ST. PETERSBURG — Ideally, St. Petersburg coach Travis Phelps would like to see his team hit the ball all over spacious Huggins-Stengel Field. But Tuesday against Class 8A, District 8 opponent Palm Harbor University, playing small ball was good enough.
The Green Devils had six bunts for base hits and three other swinging bunts in an 8-0 win. In a five-run sixth inning, St. Petersburg bunted three straight times.
“I’m not small ball at all,” Phelps said. “But the opportunities were there. They were playing back and the pitcher was falling off the mound so we just executed it. Normally we don’t do that. We’ve probably bunted five times all year before this game.”
While his teammates pounded out 15 hits, St. Petersburg pitcher David Sockol cruised through seven innings to earn a complete-game win. He threw only 69 pitches and scattered five hits.
Sockol allowed two runners to reach second base. He struck out three and didn’t allow a walk.
“I felt really good the whole day,” said Sockol, who improved to 3-2. “I wanted to establish my fastball and pound the (strike) zone and that’s what I did. And it’s easy to be a good pitcher when you’ve got players like Sam Goodis and John Miller at the top of the lineup doing all the work.”
Goodis was 3-for-5 as the leadoff batter, and Miller was 3-for-4 with a bunt single.
St. Petersburg (7-5, 4-2) stranded two runners each in the first two innings before breaking through in the third. With two outs, Connor Labrie singled off PHU starter Brian Auerbach, and Richie Rivera followed with a walk. Aaron Haughton then singled in Labrie and two PHU (5-7, 1-4) throwing errors allowed Rivera and Haughton to score.
That lead held until the sixth. David Phrathep led off with a walk, then came a Goodis bunt single and a Miller bunt single to load the bases. Phrathep scored on a wild pitch. Jake Ferguson’s safety squeeze bunt scored Goodis.
Rivera and Haughton both got RBIs, and Phrathep drew a bases-loaded walk to score the final run.
“That’s a big win for us,” Phelps said. “It puts us in second in the district. We’ve been playing much better lately.”
Rodney Page can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @RodneyHomeTeam.