ST. PETERSBURG — Corey Baptist waited just long enough to muscle a pitch to deep leftfield before flinging his bat to the grass and bolting down the line.
He thought he had a home run. Then he didn’t.
He was right the first time.
Strong wind gusts Tuesday made fly balls stay in the park. Baptist smacked it hard but had to watch as the ball barely sailed over the fence on an eighth-inning walkoff home run that lifted St. Petersburg Catholic to a 2-1 victory over rival Clearwater Central Catholic.
“At first, I thought it was definitely gone,” Baptist said of his home run. “But then I saw the outfielder was camped out there, so I didn’t know if I had enough. Then I saw him jump and thought he might have robbed it. But it over and it was a real timely hit.”
Hits were hard to come by most of the game. SPC’s Will Gerdes and CCC’s David Paul were locked in a pitcher’s duel, giving up a combined four hits through the first five innings.
The Marauders (6-2) scored their only run in the first inning. It appeared as if it would hold up thanks to Paul, who got out of two jams in the first two innings before settling to retire seven batters in a row through the next three innings.
In the sixth inning, the Barons (7-1) found some life when Baptist led off with a single. Sean Coughlin, pinch running for Baptist, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt before scoring Dakota Sarafin’s double with two outs to tie the game and eventually send it to extra innings.
“It was a great game by both pitchers,” SPC coach John Vigue said. “Will is normally our closer and we took a gamble and threw him out there because we liked the way he matched up with him. And we took advantage of the opportunities when they presented themselves on offense. We got the big hits when we needed them.”