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Region baseball: Semifinal preview capsules

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Mon. May 5, 2014 | Rodney Page and Kelly Parsons

Region baseball: Semifinal preview capsules

All games Tuesday at 7 p.m. unless noted 

Class 8A: Bloomingdale (18-9) at Plant (23-5)
Last game:
Plant topped St. Petersburg 10-0 in six innings after a Kyle Tucker three-run walk-off homer. Bloomingdale beat Riverview 6-5, scoring the go-ahead run in the final frame.
Last meetings: Plant beat the Bulls 10-2 in the 8A-7 district championship game. Before that, the Panthers beat Bloomingdale 9-0 on March 21 and 1-0 on Feb. 18.
Story lines: After securing its first region semifinal berth since 2009, can Plant continue to ride Tucker’s hot hitting to stay alive in the postseason? Can Bloomingdale avenge its big district title game loss to the Panthers?
This time around: Plant has come up big at the plate recently, scoring 20 runs and recording 21 hits in its past two games. Tucker, who is tied for first in the state with nine home runs, is hard to stop, and once he gets going, it’s often contagious among the Panthers. The Bulls’ have one weapon in particular, though, that could be of service against Plant. FSU commit Logan Crouse has one of the lowest ERAs around (0.67), and he’s known to come up with some game-saving pitches or at-bats.

Class 7A: Sickes (18-7) at Wiregrass Ranch (20-6)
Last game
: Wiregrass Ranch beat Brandon 3-2 on a walk-off single from catcher Alex Goebel. Sickles topped Durant 5-3.
Last meetings: Wiregrass Ranch beat Sickles 1-0 in a Zach Drury no-hitter to win its first district title in program history. The Bulls beat the Gryphons 4-2 on Feb. 25 before losing to them 2-0 on March 28.
Story lines: Do the Bulls have any more heroics left in them? Will Sickles be ready to end the season of the team that robbed the Gryphons of their first district baseball title?
This time around: First a no-hitter, then a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh. Wiregrass Ranch has found creative ways to stay alive in the postseason so far, and the defensive-minded Bulls will try to do it again against a Sickles team that came into the district title game against them on a seven-game win streak. The Gryphons could look to Levi Gilcrease — who leads Sickles with 12 extra-base hits — to end their hitting slump vs. the Bulls and lead them to a regional final. 

Class 7A: East Lake (19-8) at Northeast (23-4)
Last game:
East Lake defeated Sarasota 2-1 in 10 innings. Northeast defeated Braden River 2-0.
Last meeting: Northeast defeated East Lake 3-2 in the Class 7A-9 district final. Northeast has won all three meetings this seasonh: 2-1 at East Lake, 7-3 at Northeast and the district final at Countryside.
Story lines: Can Northeast beat East Lake a fourth time in the same season? Is East Lake destined after beating state contender Sarasota?
This time around: Pitching should dominate. Northeast left-hander Colton Tison has been spectacular in the postseason. He has thrown consecutive two-hitters in the district final and region quarterfinal. East Lake’s Brad Deppermann allowed only one run in seven innings to Sarasota, the No. 2 team in the state. Steven Plaskett has been lights out as a reliever, and Ryan Wall and Cameron Churchill are also ready to pitch. 

Class 6A: King (21-6) at Osceola (20-7)
Last game
: King defeated Mitchell 4-2; Osceola defeated Jefferson 7-3.
Last meeting: This is the first meeting between the schools this season. They did meet last season in the region semifinals, a 12-0 King win.
Story lines: Has King put the 11-1 loss to Jefferson in the district final behind it, and can it advance to a region final for a second straight season? Can Osceola beat a Hillsborough team a second straight time?
This time around: King again faces a pitcher who may go high in the MLB draft. The Lions defeated Mitchell’s Cobi Johnson and now get Osceola’s Keith Weisenberg. Weisenberg, a Stanford commit, was a little erratic against Jefferson, but did strike out 10 and shut the Dragons down in the final few innings. King is led by Tyeler Checkley, who is 9-1 with a 1.57 ERA. This could be a lo-scoring game.

Class 5A: Pasco (17-10) at Sunlake (18-9)
Last game:
Pasco defeated Land O’ Lakes 8-3. Sunlake defeated Hernando 2-1.
Last meetings: Sunlake beat Pasco 9-1 on April 16. Pasco beat Sunlake 5-4 on March 19
Story lines: The rubber match in this year’s series will send one team to the region final. Sunlake had never made regionals until this season, so every win is historic.
This time around: Sunlake dominated the last meeting. The Seahawks outhit Pasco 10-1 and got good pitching from David Castillo and Ryan Talburt in their 9-1 win. Earlier in the season, Pasco got three runs in the fifth inning to erase a 4-2 deficit and win 5-4. Hard to tell whether the pitching will show up for both teams in the third meeting. 

Class 5A: Robinson (10-15) at Jesuit (21-6)
When: 7:30 p.m. 
Last game: Robinson beat Bradenton Bayshore 6-0. Jesuit beat Boca Ciega 3-2 to earn its sixth straight region semifinal berth.
Last meetings: Jesuit beat the Knights all three times they played — 1-0 on Feb. 21, 5-3 on March 25 and 6-2 to take the 5A-9 district title April 24.
Story lines: Can the Tigers continue to prove that adversity won’t keep them away from their fifth straight state semifinal berth? Will Robinson finally come out on the winning end of a close contest with its district rival?
This time around: Two of the three times the Knights and Tigers have met, it’s been close, the last of which was decided in extra innings. Still, Robinson hasn’t been able to break through, and will need a big night from team-leading Charlie Cole at the plate to be able to have a shot at reversing that trend. That could be tough against a Jesuit pitching staff that has rolled since nine Tigers were issued season-long suspensions in March, making way for sophomore left-hander Michael Sandborn to work his magic.

Class 4A: Tampa Catholic (17-9)  at Berkeley Prep (16-12)
Last game:
Berkeley Prep beat Lakeland McKeel 7-0 after Dante Bosnic gave up just two hits in five innings pitched. Tampa Catholic beat Avon Park 5-1.
Last meetings: The Bucs have beaten TC 4-3, 2-1 and 4-2 this season. 
Story lines: Is the fourth time a charm for the Crusaders? Or will Berkeley Prep continue to have Tampa Catholic’s number?
This time around: The Crusaders have lost three games to the Bucs this season by a combined four runs, and Tampa Catholic coach Ty Griffin said he expects another tight contest the fourth and final time the two will meet in 2014. Tampa Catholic has had trouble with stranding runners in the past, something the Crusaders can’t do if they plan to beat a Berkeley Prep team that gave up just two hits in a shutout win in the region quarterfinal. 

Class 3A: Calvary Christian (21-7) at Clearwater Central Catholic (26-0)
Last game:
CCC defeated Sarasota Out-of-Door 12-3. Calvary Christian defeated Sarasota Cardinal Mooney 5-1.
Last meetings: The Marauders beat the Warriors 9-1 in the district final. CCC has won all three meetings; 6-5 at home, 4-2 at Calvary Christian and the district final.
Story lines: Can CCC remain undefeated and go to a second straight region final? Does Calvary Christian have the firepower to pull off the upset and ruin CCC’s perfect season?
This time around: Ace Daniel Broeseker did not pitch against the Marauders in the district final. The Marauders have already beaten Broeseker this season, but it should be a much closer game when he is on the mound. CCC will likely counter with senior ace David Paul. Paul has pitched so many big games in his career and will be hard to beat in this one. Brenden Overton (.484) and Zuriel Collins (.405) are CCC’s toughest outs. 

Class 3A: Tampa Prep (18-10) at Bishop McLaughlin (18-7)
Last game:
The Terrapins beat Lakeland Christian 5-3 after Holden Bridge had a two-RBI double in the third inning to snatch the lead. Bishop McLaughlin topped Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic as usual closer Will Potosky earned his second win in a week.
Last meetings: Bishop McLaughlin beat Tampa Prep 2-0 to win the 3A-7 district title. The Terrapins beat the Hurricanes the first two times they met in the regular season, 5-4 on Feb. 18 and 11-0 on March 28.
Story lines: Can the team-leading sophomore catcher Luis Medina come through in the clutch for Tampa Catholic as it looks to earn its second final-four berth in three years? Can the Hurricanes prove their district title win against the Terrapins wasn’t a fluke?
This time around: Bishop McLaughlin scored one of its two runs in its only win against the Terrapins this season on an error, so Tampa Prep will need to keep its mistakes to a minimum to advance against a Hurricanes squad hungry for its first region final berth since 2010. Tampa Prep has beaten Bishop McLaughlin by a combined 13 runs, so the Hurricanes should know what to expect. Tampa Prep is just charged with channeling that same power at the plate it once had. 

Class 2A: Cambridge Christian (14-7)  at Bayshore Christian (10-4)
Last game: Cambridge Christian broke open a tie game against Canterbury in the sixth inning to win 7-1. Bayshore Christian topped Lakeside Christian 12-4 to earn its first region win. 
Last meetings: Bayshore Christian beat Cambridge Christian 8-7 in the 2A-7 district title game. Before that, the teams split their first meetings, with the Faith Warriors taking the first one 10-5 and the Lancers taking the second 8-7.
Story lines: Will Cambridge Christian do what it takes to keep its hopes of a second straight state semifinal berth alive? Or will Bayshore Christian build upon its season of firsts with a region semifinal victory? 
This time around: The last time they met, the Lancers had 10 hits to the Faith Warriors’ six, but Bayshore Christian was able to do more with less to win. Cambridge Christian, which boasts one of the best hitters in Hillsborough County in Tyler House, will need to rely on more than just him in order to advance. And with seven guys hitting at least .300 on the roster, that might not be so hard to do. 
 

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