BRANDON — Durant had been rolling right along, with only one close loss in one of the state’s most competitive districts, before its game with Plant City on Thursday.
Then the Cougars lost.
In Monday’s Saladino Tournament game at Brandon, though, Durant got revenge against its neighborhood rival with a resounding 9-1 win. The victory sets up a winner-take-all game against Strawberry Crest for the right to advance as the Pool A champion.
“I won’t deny it, we wanted a little bit of redemption,” Cougars coach Butch Valdes said. “It’s a hometown rivalry, so it was nice. It’s always a bragging situation.”
Durant (7-2) had its ace, Trey Oest, throw his scheduled bullpen session in the live game, and he went three innings and struck out three while surrendering only one hit. The Cougars scored seven runs — four earned — in the top of the fourth against the Raiders (6-4). Junior Paxton Sims started the scoring with a double to leftfield, scoring Oest.
In total, Durant sent 12 to the plate that inning and came away with seven hits. The Cougars’ 13 hits were a season high.
“It was a revenge game for us,” said Sims, who went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. “We had to throw Trey out there a little bit, get our ace working out there.”
While the Cougars brought out Oest, a Virginia commit who hasn’t allowed an earned run in 212/3 innings this season and did not pitch Thursday against Plant City, the Raiders opted to dig deep into their bullpen, tying a tournament record by using six pitchers in one seven-inning game.