NEW PORT RICHEY — Tarpon Springs started hitting almost as soon as it got off the bus Thursday night in the Class 6A, District 10 final against Land O’Lakes at River Ridge.
The Spongers pounded out 12 hits against three pitchers in a 7-1 win.
Caleb Koulianos, Brenden Overton, Marco Karay and Kyle Johnson each had multi-hit games to lead Tarpon Springs. Pitcher Anthony Bariso held Land O’Lakes to two hits, both in the first inning, and struck out six.
“It’s nice to win the district championship, it really is,” Tarpon Springs coach Dickie Hart said. “But what we really want is another trophy with different writing on it.”
The Spongers gave up a run in the first inning when an Alex Reynolds groundout scored Patrick Soril from third base with one out. They tied the score in the bottom of the first on a Tommy Grill groundout that scored David Miklavcic.
Bariso settled down after the shaky first and his teammates’ bats remained hot. Tarpon Springs loaded the bases on three straight singles, and Shane Ludlow followed with a single that scored Overton.
An error on a Miklavcic groundball plated another run. Two outs later, Koulianos came up with the big blow when he hit a two-run double that made the score 6-1. Leftfielder Connor Stephens was knocked out of the game when he cut his chin trying to make the catch against the fence.
“It was huge that we got those runs in the second,” Bariso said. “It calmed me down a lot.”
Ryan Wall started for the Gators but was removed with two outs in the second. Phillip Borroni and Jake Rawls pitched the rest of the way for Land O’Lakes (18-9).
The Gators did put a runner on third base in the third inning but couldn’t score. They did not get a runner past second after the inning.
“When you only get two hits you’re not going to win the game,” Gators coach Calvin Baisley said. “That’s a good team over there. They’ve got pitching and they can hit. We didn’t lose this game, they just beat us.”
2A-9: Canterbury tripped up by archrival
ST. PETERSBURG — Canterbury has done some impressive things this season. The Crusaders won 15 games and earned the No. 1 seed in Class 2A, District 9.
But they cannot beat Sarasota Christian in the postseason.
Since 2006, the Blazers have knocked Canterbury out of the playoffs four times, including last season in the region quarterfinals.
The teams are now in the same district and assured of making the playoffs. So Thursday’s championship game was more to establish homefield advantage.
Still, it was frustrating for the Crusaders to fall 7-4 to their biggest nemesis.
Even tougher was that Canterbury was done in by one bad inning.
With the game scoreless heading into the third, Sarasota Christian broke open the game by scoring five runs. The first came off a ball that ricocheted off first base. Canterbury committed two more errors after that.
“It was really just one inning where we had a bad hop and booted the ball around a bit,” Crusaders coach Dave Smith said. “Take away that and we probably win the game.”
Canterbury (17-11) responded by scoring three in the bottom of the third but could not get any closer. The Crusaders had trouble adjusting to Blazers starter Zack Quillan, who allowed four hits, all singles.
DaSean Thomas had one of Canterbury’s four hits and scored once. Harrison Hall, who took the loss, allowed nine hits.
“Their pitcher did a good job keeping us off balance and staying ahead in the count,” Smith said. “We hung around, but we just couldn’t get the big hit with runners in scoring position the rest of the game.”
The Crusaders have to travel in the region tournament and could meet Sarasota Christian in the region semifinals. The Blazers have won two of three against Canterbury this season.
“I fully expect to see each other again,” Smith said. “We were both already in the playoffs, so there wasn’t a whole lot at stake in this one. The next one will mean a whole lot more if we can get that far.”
8A-8: Back-to-back titles for East Lake
East Lake’s Nate Montano scattered four hits over five innings and Tyler Neuhaus had three hits to help lead the Eagles to a 6-1 win over Sarasota Riverview. East Lake won consecutive district championships for the first time.
Tyler Ramsey pitched two scoreless innings to close out the game. Keegan Maronpot and Justin DiSanto each had two hits, and Matt Reker made two big defensive plays at second base to stop Riverview rallies.
“Our pitching was outstanding,” Eagles coach Dan Genna said. “They were as good as it gets. And we’re hitting the ball much better.”
East Lake will play at home Thursday in the region quarterfinals.
Staff writer Bob Putnam contributed to this report.