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State baseball: 7A, 8A opponent capsules

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Thu. May 15, 2014 | Rodney Page and Kelly Parsons

State semifinals
Where: JetBlue Park, Fort Myers
Admission: $9; parking is $8.

Class 7A: East Lake (21-8) vs. Kissimmee Osceola (24-6)
When: 7 p.m. Friday
About Osceola
Nickname: Kowboys
Coach: Scott Birchler (12th season, 193-168 overall).
Road to the state tournament: District tournament - d. Harmony 12-0 in semifinals; lost 4-0 to Lake Nona in final. Region tournament - d. Bartow 7-2, d. Haines City 5-4, d. Sickles 3-0.
State tournament appearances: 1928, 1929, 1953, 1991
State championships: None
Top pitchers: RHP Jake Grenus, Jr. (8-1, 1.00 ERA, 52 Ks, 56 IPs); RHP Justin Degrandis, Sr. (5-2, 2.58 ERA, 37 Ks, 43.1 IPs); RHP Pedro Rodriguez (5-0, 3.36 ERA, 19 Ks, 25 IPs)
Top hitters: OF Frank Toro, So. (.412, 19 RBIs, six doubles, four HRs); CF Gabriel Pedraza (.397), Sr.; 2B Chris Vasquez, Sr. (.387, 22 RBIs, six doubles, two HRs); Justin Degrandis, Sr. (.344, 22 RBIs, four HRs)
Common opponent: Orlando Olympia (Both teams lost 10-0).
Noteworthy: Osceola has 14 seniors, East Lake has eight. The Kowboys have hit 16 home runs this season, East Lake has hit five. Birchler is a 1989 Osceola graduate. He spent eight years at his alma mater before coaching at Liberty for four years. Since returning to Osceola in 2011, he is 84-26. 

Class 8A: Bloomingdale (20-9) vs. Lake Worth Park Vista (27-3)
When: 1 p.m. Friday
About Park Vista
Nickname:
Cobras
Coach: Larry Greenstein (10th season, 219-65)
Road to the state tournament: District tournament - d. Spanish River  11-1 in the final. Region tournament - d. Jupiter 6-2, d. Palm Beach Gardens 12-8, d. Stoneman Douglas 4-3.
State tournament appearances: 2008, 2009, 2011
State championships: None
Top pitchers: RHP Austin Smith, Jr. (10-0, 0.30 ERA); RHP Bruce Bechtel, Sr. (5-1, 1.20 ERA)
Top hitters: 2B Dakota Julylia, Jr. (.490 average, 16 RBIs), SS Matthew Mika, Jr. (.420 average, 40 runs scored), 1B Joe Genord, Jr. (.400 average, team-leading 2 HRs, 22 RBIs)
Common opponent: None
Noteworthy: Park Vista was ranked 33rd in MaxPreps’ top 50 national baseball rankings on May 13. The Cobras have lost two of their three games by three runs, and they’ve outscored opponents 668-57. The Cobras gave up just 10 runs in 11 district matchups this season. Park Vista will be making its fourth trip to the final four, having lost to future 6A champion Alonso in the state semifinal in 2011.

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