ST. PETERSBURG — It took exactly one pitch for East Lake’s Brad Deppermann to settle into Tuesday night’s Class 7A region semifinal against Northeast.
Deppermann, the Eagles’ leadoff hitter, homered to left center on Josh Hale’s first pitch and East Lake never looked back in a 9-0 victory.
Deppermann also pitched seven strong innings, striking out 11 and allowing three hits for the shutout. In fact, Deppermann had more hits (four) than hits allowed.
“He’s the best pitcher I’ve ever seen in high school as far as velocity and location,” Northeast coach Rob Stanifer said. “He was the real deal tonight. It was his night for sure. We ran into a buzz saw.”
East Lake (21-8) had no luck against the Vikings before Tuesday, losing both regular-season games and the district final. But Deppermann and some hot bats made sure the fourth time was the charm.
After his first-inning home run, Deppermann followed with an RBI single in the second to score Andrew Belcik. He added a double and a run scored in the fourth inning. His first three hits came on three pitches. He was 4-for-5 with a homer, a double and two singles.
In the third, Andrew Monahan got into the act with a two-run homer off reliever Ryan Quinlivan to make it 4-0. Monahan was 3-for-4 with a double and homer.
East Lake padded the lead in the sixth with a run then blew the game open with three in the seventh. It was the most runs by the Eagles since Feb. 14 against IMG Academy.
Deppermann didn’t give up a hit until the fifth inning and never more than one in an inning. Northeast (24-5) only got one runner to second base, and that came in the second inning as its 18-game winning streak ended.
“Our first loss of the season came on this field and we didn’t want our last loss to come on this field,” Deppermann said. “We’re all starting to peak at the right time.”
East Lake will play Friday at Melbourne in the region final, East lake’s first since 2002.
Eagles coach Dan Genna was confident having Deppermann on the mound, and especially after the leadoff home run.
“Honestly I thought two or three runs would do it,” Genna said. “I haven’t seen Brad give up too much more than that in a game. And the way he pitched against Sarasota’s lineup, he was ready.”
Northeast hoped to start lefthander Colton Tison, but he was scratched in favor of Hale. The Vikings used four pitchers against the Eagles.
“(Tison) wasn’t 100 percent so I wasn’t going to pitch him,” Stanifer said. “That kid’s got a future to worry about. Josh has been a horse all year.”