SPRING HILL — Drew Stofanik figured it was another in a frustrating line of well-struck balls making its way to an opponent’s glove.
Instead the Bishop McLaughlin designated hitter had the momentum-shifting hit as Bishop beat Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic 5-3 in Wednesday’s Class 3A region quarterfinal.
Bishop (18-7) will host Tampa Prep in a rematch of the district final won 2-0 by the ’Canes.
With his team trailing 2-0 Wednesday, Stofanik hit a homer, his first of the year, and by the end of the third inning the score was tied.
Two runs in the fourth gave Bishop the lead for good.
“Honestly I thought it was just a pop-up,” said Stofanik, who entered hitting .214.
Coach Jeff Swymer said some people were “clamoring” for a change at DH but Stofanik had been making good contact.
After the home run, No. 9 hitter Paul Coumoulos singled, went to third on a wild pitch and an error, and scored the tying run on Zack Berglund’s bunt.
Four straight hits — by Ethan Nuebling, Dillon Morton, RJ Perciavalle and Stofanik — made for the go-ahead fourth inning. Nuebling was 2-for-3 with two runs scored out of the No. 5 spot; of the ’Canes’ seven hits, none came from the top four in the order.
“We’re solid up and down the lineup,” said Nuebling, who also made a key diving catch at third base to end the top of the fourth. The visitors from Lakeland had loaded the bases.
Will Potosky, the closer all season before a complete-game shutout of Tampa Prep last week, went the first five. Carson Ragsdale pitched the final two frames, getting a diving stop from Potosky at first base to end it.
“Five innings was enough for me tonight. I didn’t have the same control. I was happy that Rags could pick me up,” Potosky said.
Zach Scott’s homer pulled Santa Fe within 4-3 in the top of the fifth, then slugger Mark Devlin ripped one to the wall but Coumoulos caught up to it in leftfield. Coumoulos also had a big insurance sac fly in the sixth to score Nuebling.
Though Tampa Prep will be out for revenge — the Terrapins were 9-0 in district play until Potosky shut them down — Swymer thinks his young guys can pull it off.
“We’re just a bunch of baby giraffes out there, but you know what? We’re competing our tails off,” he said.