ST. PETERSBURG — For a team that has won 17 straight games, Northeast sure does put its coaches and fans through a lot of stress.
In an all-too-familiar scenario, the Vikings scored early and used pitching and defense to defeat Bradenton Braden River 2-0 in a Class 7A region quarterfinal Wednesday.
Colton Tison pitched a complete game two-hitter, which he also did in the district semifinal against Countryside. Wednesday, he struck out nine.
“(Tison) threw one heck of a game,” Northeast coach Rob Stanifer said. “If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have won. We didn’t execute very well. We did in the first inning. But after that, we just did our own thing.”
The Vikings jumped on Pirates starter Eric Kimsey in the first inning. Angelo Terrasi led off by reaching on an error. Chris Clark then executed a perfect hit-and-run to rightfield that put runners on first and third.
A throw to second to catch Clark stealing was high and went into centerfield. That allowed Terrasi to score and moved Clark to third. Bret Maxwell then flew out to centerfield to allow Clark to tag and score.
That was it for the scoring.
The Vikings loaded the bases with two outs in the third but couldn’t push a run across. Braden River didn’t get its first hit until the third inning.
The Pirates had their only threat in the fourth inning. A one-out double by Daren Ortiz and a throwing error put runners on second and third. But Tison struck out Jordan Guerrero and Tristan Burdette to end the inning. Braden River managed only one runner over the final three innings.
“It seems like every game has been like this,” Tison said. “It settles me down a little bit when we get those early runs. It boosts up my confidence. It’s huge.”
Northeast (23-4) hosts East Lake on Tuesday in the region semifinals. It is a rematch of Friday’s district championship, which Northeast won 3-2 behind starter Josh Hale. Stanifer said Tison will start against the Eagles.