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District baseball: Seminole buoyed by big wins, baffled by losses

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Fri. April 19, 2013 | Rodney Page | Email

District baseball: Seminole buoyed by big wins, baffled by losses

As district tournaments crank up next week, perhaps no team is more of a mystery than Seminole.

The Warhawks have the senior leadership and pitching depth to make a legitimate run at the Class 7A state championship. That was evident in wins over Venice and Jesuit, both nationally ranked teams.

The Warhawks also have a legitimate chance of not making it out of the Class 7A, District 10 tournament. Although they are the top seed, Seminole may have to play St. Petersburg in the second round. The Green Devils have beaten Seminole twice, including a win in the Steve Georgiadis Tournament final during spring break.

Seminole (19-6) also lost to Bradenton Manatee last week on senior night.

“It has been an interesting season, for sure,” coach Jeff Pincus said. “The hardest thing as a coach is to motivate players individually. We have had our ups and downs, but I really do think we are peaking right now.”

Since beating Jesuit last Saturday, the Warhawks have eked out wins over Tarpon Springs then Northeast in the PCAC tournament. The Warhawks have won five straight since losing to Manatee.

If Seminole is going to make a playoff run, it will need production from its talented senior class. Catcher Michael Mann hit .304 with four home runs and 15 RBIs in the regular season. Shortstop Alex McGathey (.300, 17 RBIs), second baseman Scott Withrow (.436, 23 RBIs) and first baseman Corey Baptist (.453, four home runs) are seniors who have contributed this season.

Baptist, a St. Petersburg Catholic transfer, also has four saves.

“Corey has been on a yearlong roll,” Pincus said. “We’ve had guys who have gone on streaks, but Corey has been consistent all year.”

At the beginning of the season Seminole figured to hit with all its returning players. Pitching was going to be the question mark. McGathey was one of the only proven starters returning, but he has thrown only 9 1/3 innings.

Senior Nick Nolan has stepped up this season as Seminole’s ace. The No. 4 starter last season, he recorded a no-hitter against Pinellas Park on March 12. He has thrown 57 innings and is 7-1 with a 1.60 ERA and 47 strikeouts. He was the starter against Venice and Jesuit.

“We nicknamed him ‘Big Game’ Nick,” Baptist said.

Senior Tylor Craft is another starter who threw very little last season, making two appearances and throwing a total of three innings in 2012. But this season Craft has been nearly unhittable. He has thrown 38 innings and has a 0.92 ERA and 46 strikeouts.

By midseason, Craft moved from closer to starter.

“I started the season as a closer and then the way things worked out I became the No. 2 guy,” Craft said. “I liked being the closer. I got to throw as hard as I could for one inning. But being a starter is a different story. You have to be able to go at least five innings.”

Left-hander Damian Lovett (0.59 ERA, 14 appearances) and Stephen Nobles (2.00 ERA, eight appearances) have also been capable pitchers this season.

With talent in the field and on the mound, expectations have been high. While the regular season wasn’t exactly as planned, the Warhawks know the playoffs are what matters.

“What we’ve tried to get better at is matching the team’s intensity that we are playing,” McGathey said. “Everybody gets up when they play us. That’s what we did in the big games we’ve played. We’ve been better lately. Right now, every game matters.”

Seminole had a 24-win season in 2012, but the lasting memory is a loss to Gaither in the region semifinals. Another early playoff loss would be a disappointment.

“We could be 25-0 and then lose in districts and it wouldn’t matter,” Baptist said. “I’d rather be 0-25 and win states.”
“I’d rather be 25-0 and win states,” McGathey added.

District tournament schedule
Class 8A-8

Where: Various sites
Schedule: Tuesday — No. 4 North Port at No. 1 East Lake, 6; No. 3 Palm Harbor U. at No. 2 Sarasota Riverview, 6; Thursday — final, 6*
*Higher seed hosts

Class 7A-10
Where: Pinellas Park
Schedule: Tuesday — No. 4 St. Petersburg vs. No. 5 Northeast, 4; No. 3 Pinellas Park vs. No. 6 Clearwater, 7; Wednesday — Pinellas Park/Clearwater winner vs. No. 2 Countryside, 4; St. Petersburg/Northeast winner vs. No. 1 Seminole, 7; Friday — final, 7

Class 6A-10
Where: Mitchell
Schedule: Tuesday — No. 4 Sunlake vs. No. 5 Tarpon Springs, 7:30; Wednesday — No. 1 Land O’Lakes vs. Sunlake/Tarpon winner, 4:30; No. 2 Mitchell vs. No. 3 River Ridge, 7:30; Thursday — final, 7:30

Class 6A-12
Where: Various sites
Schedule: Tuesday — No. 5 Lakewood Ranch at No. 4 Palmetto, 7; Wednesday — Palmetto/Lakewood Ranch winner at No. 1 Osceola, 7; No. 3 Dixie Hollins at No. 2 Largo, 7; Friday — final, 7*
*Higher seed hosts

Class 5A-12
Where: Various sites
Schedule: Tuesday — No. 5 Bradenton Southeast at No. 4 Bradenton Bayshore, 7; No. 6 Gibbs at No. 3 Lakewood, 7; Wednesday — Southeast/Bayshore winner at No. 1 Dunedin, 7; Gibbs/Lakewood winner at No. 2 Boca Ciega, 7; Friday — final, 7*
*Higher seed hosts  

Class 3A-9
Where: St. Petersburg Catholic
Schedule: Monday — No. 4 Northside Christian vs. No. 5 SPC, 7; Tuesday — No. 3 Indian Rocks Christian vs. No. 6 Shorecrest, 4; No. 2 Calvary Christian vs. No. 7 Admiral Farragut, 7; Wednesday — Calvary/AFA winner vs. IRC/Shore­crest winner, 4; Northside/SPC winner vs. No. 1 Clearwater Central Catholic, 7; Friday — final, 7

Class 2A-9
Where: Sarasota Christian*
Schedule: Monday — No. 4 Keswick Christian vs. No. 5 Manatee HEAT, 6; Tuesday — No. 3 Lakeside Christian at No. 2 Canterbury, 6; Keswick/Manatee HEAT at No. 1 Sarasota Christian, 7; Thursday — final, 7
*Unless noted

Teams in post

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