TAMPA — In the season opener, Bayshore Christian dropped a 4-2 decision to Lakeside Christian. The Faith Warriors have come a long way since that first game loss.
Bayshore Christian held a 6-3 lead late in a rematch with the Lions, then broke open the game with six runs in the sixth inning for a 12-4 victory in a Class 2A region quarterfinal at Interbay Little League.
“We’re definitely a different team than we were the first game of the season,” first-year coach Corey Thomas said. “No doubt about that, we’ve gotten better.”
The win is the first playoff victory for the Bayshore Christian baseball program.
“It means a lot,” Thomas said. “It means that we’re working. It’s a bigger atmosphere over here now, and I’m not disrespecting the guys that (were) over here before me. It’s just all about pushing the players to play hard.”
Bayshore Christian right-hander Evan Holland threw a complete game and struck out seven batters. After giving up a two-run home run to Christian Michener in the third inning that gave the Lions (14-10) a 2-1 lead, Holland settled into a groove, giving up only two more runs the rest of the way while keeping the Lions off the base paths.
“(The home run) didn’t faze me,” Holland said. “I left it up, and he’s their best hitter. …After that I was fine.”
Trailing 3-1 in the fourth, Bayshore Christian (11-4) grabbed the lead for good with five runs, all coming with two outs. Michener, Lakeside’s starter, walked the bases loaded, and Jordan Martin came through with a two RBI single. Another run came home when the Lakeside catcher couldn’t find the ball on a play at the plate.
Evan Courtney doubled off reliever Noah Brunk to plate a fifth run, and Conner Brown, who made several spectacular plays in the field at shortstop, laced a run-scoring single for a 6-3 Bayshore lead.
Holland struck out the side in the fifth and worked a 1-2-3 sixth.
“(Holland’s) been the horse for us all year,” Thomas said.
Lakeside got a run back in the seventh on Michener’s RBI single, but couldn’t cut further into the deficit.
More 2A: Also in 2A, Cambridge Christian and host Canterbury each scored a run in the first inning. But for the next four, neither team could make a move, and the stalemate continued into the sixth.
Eager to finally put the game away, the Lancers scored two runs in the six and four more in the seventh to beat the Crusaders 7-1.
Tyler House, who owns a .462 batting average, came up big for the Lancers (14-7), going 1-for-3 with a double, two RBIs and three runs scored. Devin Lopez and Elias Rivera each went 2-for-4, while Ryan Block picked up the win on the mound, striking out five and giving up just three hits in six innings pitched.
Cambridge Christian’s win brings up one of many district championship rematches in the region semifinal round. For Lancers coach Stephen Piercefield, that means a little extra motivation for his players.
“We’re going to come out and we’re going to continue to work,” he said. “Ultimately we knew this matchup could present itself again. Having it be a district rival always adds a little bit of excitement and it entices the guys to come out and practice a little harder.”