CLEARWATER — Northeast and East Lake took different paths to Friday’s Class 7A-9 final. The Vikings scored early and were never threatened in a 3-0 win over Countryside.
East Lake, however, needed extra innings and a little luck to move on.
The Eagles were tied with Pinellas Park 1-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning and had two outs with the bases loaded. Andrew Monahan swung at strike three but it got past catcher Dan McHenry.
McHenry’s throw to first to complete the play was wide and Monahan was safe, which gave the Eagles a 2-1 win. Pinellas Park’s Brandon Grigsby and East Lake’s Brad Deppermann each pitched eight innings and recorded 14 strikeouts.
Both Northeast and East Lake advance to regional play next week. The district final is 7 Friday night at Countryside.
Northeast pitcher Colton Tison scattered two hits and the Vikings played stellar defense. Northeast (21-4) has won 15 straight, mostly following Wednesday’s formula of pitching, defense and just enough offense.
Northeast scrapped for a run in the first inning. Chris Clark doubled off Charlie Skantze with one out and stole third base. Bret Maxwell then grounded to shortstop, scoring Clark.
After giving up a leadoff single in the first, Tison retired 12 straight hitters. There were acrobatic catches by second baseman Jason Mugavero and centerfielder Clark.
The Vikings got some insurance in the fourth on Drew Vimond’s RBI double to score Maxwell. Will Condon then singled to drive in Vimond.
“That was a typical Northeast win right there,” Northeast coach Rob Stanifer said. “Colton had an outstanding performance on the mound. He didn’t have his best stuff but the defense made some great plays. Jason Mugavero at second made some great catches. We just battled.”
“To get to the championship like this is an awesome feeling,” Tison said. “That was all my defense today. I just wanted to throw strikes and let those guys do their thing.”
The loss typified Countryside’s season.
“In playoff baseball, you get two hits you aren’t going to win,” Cougars coach Kemo O’Sullivan said. “That’s just the way the season has been for us. We’ve worked so hard all season on our hitting and it just never came together.”
The second game proved more dramatic.
Pinellas Park pushed a run across in the first after opening with a Triston Allen double and a Ryan Griffith single. Zach Roberts then grounded into a double play to score Allen from third.
That lead held until the sixth, when Nick DeSantis’ double scored Keegan Maronpot.
East Lake loaded the bases in the eighth on a walk, an infield throwing error and an intentional walk. With two outs, Monahan swung at a curveball in the dirt for strike three. But the ball got away to end the game.
“A phenomenal game with two gladiator-type pitchers,” East Lake coach Dan Genna said. “It’s an unusual way for a game to end. I’m not sure if Andrew knew where the ball was. But it worked out for us.”
5A-10: Bogie locks up playoff spot
GULFPORT — Tanner Watkins got the run support he needed and Boca Ciega erased a year’s worth of bad memories, rolling Lakewood 13-2 in Class 5A, District 10 semifinals.
Boca Ciega clinched a region berth for the first time under coach Ralph Rogers and face Bradenton Bayshore, an 8-2 winner over Southeast, in the final.
“This was one of the goals we had this year,” Rogers said. “There have been a lot of kids in the program that have played three or four seasons, and this was where we wanted to be and now we’ve got a shot at a district championship. It would be a great feeling to bring one back to Boca Ciega.”
An 11-run third inning saw 15 Pirates come up to the plate. For the game Darius Blasingane went 3-for-4 with three runs and Tully Allen was 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Lakewood committed four errors.
“We’ve had some issues getting runs across the plate and we’ve lost some close games because of it,” Rogers said. “This week we focused on making contact and getting ourselves in position to capitalize on the other team’s mistakes.”
Staked to an 11-run lead, Watkins settled down to retire 10 of the final 13 batters. He ran into a little trouble in the fifth as Lakewood had two runners on and two outs. But Watkins went to his cutter to induce a ground ball to end the game on the mercy rule.
“I wanted to get this game over bad,” Watkins said. “I just relaxed and got my breathing right again because I knew we had a big lead and all I needed to do was focus on the guy at the plate.
“The cutter and my curveball were the pitches that got me out of trouble today. Now we get to play for a district title.”
6A-10: Osceola rolls
Osceola coach Stefan Futch left nothing to chance against Dixie Hollins. He pitched ace Keith Weisenberg in the 6A-10 semfinal, and Weisenberg came through with a complete game in an 11-1 victory over the Rebels that was called after six innings due to the 10-run rule.
Jaret Helinger went 4-for-4 with a home run for Osceola, which hosts Mitchell at 7 p.m. Friday.
“Keith looked good and we got the hits when we needed them,” Osceola coach Stefan Futch said.
5A-8: Tarpon ousted
HUDSON — Rivals Land O’Lakes and Sunlake will play for the title after the Gators knocked out top seed River Ridge 7-2 and Sunlake dropped Tarpon Springs 13-3 in six innings.
No. 3 seed Sunlake (17-8) salted away the berth quickly with a nine-run first inning.
Tarpon was 5-17 coming into districts but upset No. 2 seed Fivay in the quarterfinals. On Wednesday, the Spongers loaded with none out. But Tarpon failed to tag up on a would-be sac fly and starter David Castillo escaped the jam. Tarpon (6-18) had used its top pitcher, Max Romanski, against Fivay, winning 5-0 on a two-hitter.
3A-9: Rivals advance
CLEARWATER — Are you ready for Round 3?
Host Calvary Christian eased past Indian Rocks Christian, 5-0, and top seed Clearwater Central Catholic toppled feisty St. Petersburg Catholic, 4-0 to set up a rematch Friday for the 3A-9 title.
“It’s a rivalry we care about, it’s very important,” Warrior freshman Graham Hoffman said. “We’ve played them in two close games (losing twice to the unbeaten Marauders). We’re going to get them the third time.”
Hoffman rolled an RBI single through the shortstop hole in the first inning then followed with a big two-run single in the second for Calvary (20-6).
“We had six two-out hits (including both of Hoffman’s), we got the production we needed,” Warrior coach Greg Olsen said. “It’s something we talk about and work on every day.”
Senior Daniel Broeseker shook off a flu bug to go the distance, allowing IRC (14-11) two hits while inducing 16 groundouts and striking out three.
“I can throw to contact knowing I have a great defense behind me,” the right-hander said. “I felt I had pretty good control, and I know if I throw strikes that good things will happen.”
In the nightcap, the Barons (12-15) put two runners on base with less than two outs in the fourth and fifth innings but ace righty David Paul (three hits, seven strikeouts, one walk, 81 pitches) shut the door both times.
“I hadn’t pitched against them all season so I figured I’d be successful but they were on me all night,” Paul said. “I was battling, and when we got the big lead I pounded the fastball. Nothing fancy.”
CCC (24-0) used small ball and hustle. No. 9 hitter Britton Araujo’s two-strike sacrifice bunt in the third set up Tyler Simmons (walk) to score, followed by two RBI singles.
“I was confident and coach (Todd Vaughan) has confidence in us,” Araujo said. “We knew we could get it done.”
And with another battle with Calvary Christian looming, Araujo said, “They’re always a tough team. We know each other well, we’ve played each other since we were little, and we’re ready to go at it.”
Correspondents Corey Long, Darek Sharp and Chuck Frye contributed to this report.