CLEARWATER — Andrew Mink delivered the big blow and Michael Paul made it stand up in Clearwater Central Catholic’s Class 3A-9 title defense Friday.
Mink took a first-inning, first-pitch hanging breaking ball and cranked it over the 360-foot marker in straightaway center field at Victory Field for a grand slam against Calvary Christian. The unbeaten, top-seeded Marauders rolled 9-1.
“I hit really bad in batting practice before the game and I didn’t want to take that onto the field with me,” the junior catcher said. “I felt good coming up to the plate and just looked for something I could put the barrel of the bat on.”
CCC (25-0) jumped on opportunities. An error on a potential inning-ending double play set up Mink’s slam. An errant first-inning pickoff throw put Zuriel Collins (walk) on third, scoring on the first of three Nico Dohse singles.
“Sure, it was a rough start but good teams have to face and overcome adversity,” Calvary coach Greg Olsen said.
But freshman Paul — the younger brother of David Paul, Wednesday’s winning pitcher in the semis — wouldn’t let that happen. The lanky righty shackled allowed only a second-inning walk, a hit batter and Tommy Georgevich’s RBI single in the fourth inning to the Warriors (20-7).
“I didn’t even expect to be on the varsity this year,” said Paul (5-0). “It’s a dream, especially with my brother up here. Every inning, he gives me something to work on and he’s taught me everything I know.”
“Just knowing he was pumping strikes and letting the defense make plays made the difference,” Marauders coach Todd Vaughan said.