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SEMINOLE — There were times when Jordan Doyle was off his game.
The Seminole pitcher allowed two hits. He walked a few batters. And he hit another.
But when the Warhawks needed a big pitch, Doyle would reach back and throw one that disappeared below an unsuspecting hitter’s bat.
Pretty soon, it was the seventh inning, and Doyle was still out there, still mowing them down.
Freedom had a fighting chance against Doyle’s worst pitches. But the Patriots were no match for Doyle’s best, and as a result, Seminole cruised to a 6-1 victory in Wednesday’s Class 7A region quarterfinal.
“I didn’t have my best stuff early on,” Doyle said. “I took me a while to get relaxed and have more velocity on my pitches. I got better as the game went on, but that’s something I’ll have to work on my next start.”
Seminole (24-4) went ahead 2-0 in the first inning. Alex McGathey and Scott Withrow, who each had singles, both scored. Freedom cut the deficit to 2-1 in the fourth when Kyle Schindler, who walked, advanced to second on a groundout and stole third, scored on a groundout by Chandler Chapman.
The Warhawks broke open the game by scoring two runs each in the fourth and fifth innings.
Doyle and the defense took care of the rest. Doyle finished with six strikeouts. He allowed just three baserunners in the final four innings and retired the last six batters he faced.
“We had to scrap our way to some runs early on,” Seminole coach Jeff Pincus said. “Those are the things you have to do at this time of year to win some games. Doyle finished much stronger than he started, and the defense came up with some great plays.”
7A: Clearwater falls behind early
TAMPA — Gaither got the bats going early against Clearwater, getting seven hits and four runs to cover the first two innings and finishing with seven runs and 11 hits for a 7-2 win. Both Clearwater runs came on errors, one in the second and one in the seventh inning.
Gaither senior Evan Gainey had a strong outing, going seven complete innings with no earned runs, three hits and five strikeouts. He walked four and let one in on a wild pitch but escaped the toughest spot of the game in the fifth inning on a fantastic infield play. Sophomore Randy Oliva got the unassisted double play, stepping on third base and zipping the ball over to second.
The Cowboys nearly turned a triple play as senior second baseman Cody Robinson threw to first, just after the runner.
“Evan pitched tough tonight,” said Cowboys coach Frank Permuy. “He didn’t have his best stuff, but he was tough when we needed him to be.”
The top half of the Cowboys batting order was ruthless. Leadoff hitter Eddie Pastrana was 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs. No. 3 hitter Oscar Mercado was 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI, and designated hitter Matt Frey crushed a triple to right that scored two in the first inning.
“I feel like we’re in the zone right now,” said Pastrana. “I really feel like we’ve got it this year.”
5A: Dunedin upset in eight innings
DUNEDIN — Josh Jenkins had an ice pack on his left shoulder and a huge smile on his face after pitching and hitting Robinson to a 4-3, eight-inning win over Dunedin on Wednesday night in a Class 5A region quarterfinal.
Jenkins pitched seven innings, gave up six hits and three runs and also went 2-for-5 with a leadoff triple in the eighth to lead the Knights. As a reward, Robinson plays Jesuit for the fourth time this season in Tuesday’s semifinals.
“I couldn’t feel any better,” Jenkins said. “I haven’t been in the playoffs before so this is great.”
This was Robinson’s first region appearance in six years. It didn’t start off well when Dunedin (19-7) scored all three of its runs in the first inning. Ben Emery led off the game with a walk. Alex Hart followed with a single, and Kellen Brown knocked in courtesy runner Brett Beery with a bloop single. Colyn O’Connell then singled to drive in Hart. Mac LaBoeuf finished the scoring with an RBI flyout to rightfield.
Robinson (12-13) got two runs back in the second on an RBI triple from Darius Autry and an RBI single from Mario Giovanetti. After a short rain delay, the Knights tied the score in the third when an error by the shortstop allowed Jacquari Mattox to score.
“It’s not like we blistered the ball in the first inning, but we’ll take it,” Dunedin coach Tom Hilbert said. “But this is the playoffs. We knew that team over there wasn’t going to quit. It’s not like we were doing anything different at the dish. That kid just pitched a heck of a game.”
3A: Barons get boost from relief pitching
ST. PETERSBURG — Good pitching and defense held up an early lead as St. Petersburg Catholic cruised past Sarasota Out-of-Door Academy 6-1 in a 3A region quarterfinal.
The Barons put up four runs in the second inning. Will Gerdes, who reached on a single, later scored on a force play. With two out, catcher Tito Santos singled to left. Dakota Sarafin then tripled, scoring Joey Saunders and Santos. Sarafin would later cross the plate when Max Geller, who reached on a walk, stole second.
Barons starter Stewart Wilkes struggled a bit in the top of the third, giving up a double to open the inning. After striking out the next batter, Wilkes gave up consecutive singles and the Thunder cut the lead to 5-1.
But Wilkes was stronger in the fourth and fifth innings, giving up only two hits while keeping the visitors from advancing past first base.
Jimmy Lynch and Gerdes came on to pitch in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively. After Lynch’s 1-2-3 inning, Gerdes benefited from some outstanding defense. Second baseman Tyler Langford made a diving catch to secure the second out of the inning. After the next batter reached on an error, outfielder Sarafin stretched to nab a ball hit deep to left and secure the win.
Barons coach John Vigue credited Wilkes for pitching strong and getting to the late relief.
“We feel confident if our starting pitching can get us four or five innings,” Vigue said. “We feel good about the back end of our bullpen.”
3A: Warriors march on
Calvary Christian bounced back from its district loss to St. Petersburg Catholic. Zach Wolfe pitched seven strong innings, allowing five hits and one earned run in the Warriors’ 8-2 Class 3A region quarterfinal win over Sarasota Cardinal Mooney. He also went 2-for-2 with two walks and reached base five times.
Matt Piatt was 4-for-5 with a double and three RBIs. David Ell was 2-for-3 with three runs scored. Dakota Hofmann was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs.
“Cardinal Mooney was a big team, probably the biggest team we faced this year,” Calvary coach Greg Olsen said. “But we had a good scouting report on them and played a very good game.”
Staff writer Rodney Page and correspondents Andy Warrener and Anthony Salveggi contributed to this report.