SEMINOLE — There were times when Osceola’s Taylor Layner reached 90 mph on the radar gun. But he did not overpower Seminole hitters in Friday’s Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship game.
He exasperated them, slaying them softly.
Layner threw a one-hit shutout and struck out seven to lead the Warriors to an 8-0 win. It is the first time the south division has won the conference championship since Dixie Hollins in 1991.
“I wanted the ball the whole time,” Layner said. “This is a big game and a big rivalry and I knew this was my last regular-season game of my high school career.”
He also wanted to take the mound for redemption. Layner lost to Seminole this season when the Warhawks rallied in the seventh inning.
This time, the Warriors came through with an offense that was relentless.
Osceola (20-4) got three hits off Seminole starter Joey Krehbiel in the first inning and scored two runs. The Warriors added two more runs in the fifth inning and broke open the game with four more in the seventh.
Osceola had 10 hits, including one each from seven starters. The leader was Evan Hock, who had a two-run double and two-run homer.
“I was able to connect on a couple of hanging curveballs,” Hock said. “We wanted to show everyone that we could win this. It’s the best we’ve played all year. Hopefully it’s the start of something big.”
Better still is the offensive explosion came against the Warhawks, whose staff had three pitchers with an ERA of 1.11 or lower entering the game and had not allowed eight runs in a game all season.
The run support was more than enough for Layner, who had his third one-hit shutout of the season. Seminole’s Casey Jennings had the lone hit, a single in the third inning. After that, Layner started mowing down batters with efficiency, retiring the final 15 he faced.
“We were aggressive at the plate and got ahead,” Layner said. “Our approach was great. We just beat the No. 4 team in the state, according to MaxPreps. This is the way we need to play the rest of the season.”