PALM HARBOR — Through two innings Tuesday, everything seemed to go right for Palm Harbor University.
The Hurricanes were getting hits and scoring runs in bunches. In the first inning, they strung together six straight hits, all singles, scoring six runs. They followed with four hits, the biggest a three-run homer by Samantha McCloskey to go up 9-0.
The Class 8A region quarterfinal seemed headed for a rout. But PHU needed all of those runs after a furious rally by Alonso made it a one-run game. It wasn’t until the Hurricanes added five runs in the sixth that they were able to escape with a 14-8 victory.
“It was a win, but it wasn’t a happy win,” McCloskey said. “We let our guard down and we can’t do that again if we want to go to states.”
In the third inning, Ravens coach Robin Kopp had freshman pitcher Megan Chaplow relieve starter Erika Shick. Chaplow kept PHU off balance, holding the Hurricanes scoreless through the next three innings.
“(Alonso) did a good job with that pitching change,” PHU coach Chuck Poetter said. “We had trouble making the adjustment. She really shut us down.”
Meanwhile, the Ravens found some life on offense, scoring twice in the third inning and adding three runs each in the fifth and sixth innings. The big hits came from Jessica Warren, who had a two-run homer in the third inning and a three-run homer in the fifth.
Ahead 9-8, the Hurricanes scored five runs on four hits in the sixth to given them some breathing room.
“I didn’t do a good job of coaching,” Poetter said. “I should have intentionally walked (Warren) instead of throwing to her. I just believed in
Taylor Sabol pitching and my players. It clouded my judgment. I let my ego get in the way and I was hoping it didn’t cost us the game.”
8A: East Lake loses big lead, game
PLANT CITY — For the second time in six nights, Durant (20-4) rallied wildly from a gaping deficit, only this time their season was at stake. Junior ace Paige Davis’ walk-off three-run home run lifted the hosts to a 9-7 win over East Lake in the Class 8A region quarterfinals.
East Lake jumped out to a 5-0 first-inning lead. Consecutive Durant errors were followed by Nicole Szelest’s two-run base hit, which set up Emma Hvozdovich’s three-run homer to left.
Peyton Collins’ two-out RBI-double in the third gave the Eagles a 6-0 lead.
The Cougars, held scoreless through the first three innings despite steady contact off sophomore left-hander Gabby Orito, broke through in the fourth on Kelli Tidwell’s two-run homer — her second in three games.
They tied the score in the sixth when Davis hit her first homer of the regular season, a three-run shot to left that chased Orito. East Lake re-took the lead in the top of the seventh on sophomore Ashley Bonalewicz’s two-out solo blast.
Then the Davis drama hit Act II. With two out and runners on first and second, Davis popped up a 3-1 pitch from lefty Zoe Tacoma high above the first-base line, only to have it misplayed.
She sent the very next pitch over the fence in dead center.
2A: Crusaders keep on cruising
ST. PETERSBURG — Canterbury played a regular-season schedule that yielded few easy nights. That was by design. Coach Jody Moore wanted to play as many tough games as possible against teams in higher classes to prepare for the postseason.
So far, the playoffs have been a breeze.
Canterbury, the defending state champion, cruised to a 10-0 victory over Sarasota Christian in a Class 2A region quarterfinal that was called in the sixth inning because of the 10-run mercy rule. Counting games in last week’s district tournament, the Crusaders have beaten their past three opponents by a combined score of 38-0. Canterbury (17-11) has been so dominant it has played just 14 innings in the past three games because of the mercy rule.
“It’s been easy so for us so far,” Moore said. “But it’s going to get tougher.”
Crusaders starter Emily Winesett was masterful on the mound. In last week’s district tournament, Winesett struck out all 15 batters she faced in brief appearances in two games. On Tuesday, Winesett kept her scoreless streak alive in the postseason, allowing three hits and striking out 10.
“I was able to hit my spots really well and go in-and-out against hitters,” Winesett said. “I also trusted my defense to make plays. I thought we all did well because (Sarasota Christian) was a good hitting team that gave us some trouble earlier in the season.”
Canterbury went ahead early, scoring two runs in the first inning. The Crusaders added two runs in the fourth inning, four in the sixth and two in the seventh. Julia Cieutat was 3-for-4, Danielle Romanello and Lindsay Graves each had two hits, and Maddie Posey had a home run to lead Canterbury.
“I’m real pleased with the offense,” Moore said. “We got contributions from everyone.”
6A, Osceola 4, Leto 3: The Warriors overcame a 3-0 first-inning deficit to win a playoff game for the first time . Osceola rallied with two runs in the third inning, tied the game with a run in the sixth and scored the winning run in the top of the seventh. Jasmine Acevedo and Kara Oberer hit doubles and Rachel Weaver hit a home run to lead the Warriors. Kaitlyn Romaine allowed five hits to pick up her 15th win.
A look at some of the top performers from Tuesday night.
Samantha McCloskey, Palm Harbor U.: The senior slugger hit her 14th home run this season with a three-run shot in the second inning of a win against Alonso. She has a bay-area best 67 RBIs.
Emily Winesett, Canterbury: The senior won her 17th game this season, allowing three hits and striking out 10 against Sarasota Christian in the region quarterfinals. It was her third straight shutout.
“That was a mistake pitch. It was right over the plate. As soon as I saw it, I said, 'Oooohh. That’s pretty.’ ” PHU third baseman Samantha McCloskey on her three-run home run against Alonso . McCloskey did not get another pitch to hit. She was intentionally walked three times.
Staff writer Joey Knight contributed to this report.
Photo: East Lake’s Peyton Collins doesn’t have a chance of catching a home run by Durant’s Paige Davis in the bottom of the seventh inning, which lifted the Cougars 9-7 over the Eagles.