FORT MYERS — One run.
That was East Lake’s game plan against Kissimmee Osceola in Friday night’s Class 7A state semifinal. Find a way to get one run.
It took 13 innings, but the Eagles finally got that run and used the strong pitching of Brad Deppermann and Steven Plaskett to defeat the Kowboys 1-0 at JetBlue Park. East Lake (24-7) faces Hialeah American tonight at 7:30 for the state title.
“Long night,” centerfielder Sawyer Wirth said. “At the beginning of the game we told ourselves we need to get at least one run and let our pitchers take over.”
Wirth led off the 13th inning with a walk. One out later, Nick DeSantis singled to right-center, moving Wirth to third base. Ian Lisle then lined out to rightfield, but the ball was hit far enough to allow Wirth to tag and score the game’s only run.
“I was just looking for a pitch I could drive,” Lisle said. “When I hit it I knew it was far enough. I’m just glad Sawyer crossed the plate.”
The way Deppermann and Plaskett pitched, one run would be enough. Deppermann pitched 8.1 innings and allowed only three hits while striking out 11. He had no walks. After he gave up his third hit in the ninth inning, Plaskett came on in relief.
Plaskett was unhittable. He had seven strikeouts in 4.2 innings and struck out the side in the 13th inning to clinch the victory.
“It was like having Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens out there,” East Lake coach Dan Genna said. “Those guys are so good. We figured if we could get one run, certainly two, we should win this game.”
The 13 innings played ties an Florida High School Athletic Association state championship series record for the longest game played. It is also the fourth extra -innings game played by East Lake since the district tournament semifinals.
The Eagles had several chances to avoid extra innings.
They left runners in scoring position in six innings. The best chance to score came in the fifth. Andrew Monahan led off with a double and reached third on a sacrifice bunt by pinch hitter Tyler Gardner. East Lake then tried a suicide squeeze on a 3-1 count to Christian James, but James didn’t make contact and Monahan was tagged out. One pitch later, James struck out looking to end the inning.
“We’re thinking at that point we just need to get one run,” Genna said. “We’ve been pretty good on squeezes this year so I figured it was worth a try.”
The Eagles managed to load the bases with two outs in the sixth inning, but Osceola starter Jake Grenus got Cameron Churchill to fly out to second to end the threat. East Lake also left runners in scoring position in the sixth, eighth and ninth innings.
Osceola (25-7) left runners on second and third in the fourth inning, when it got two straight hits off Deppermannn. After that, the Kowboys had only one runner reach second.
This will be the second time East Lake has played in a state championship game. It lost to Lynn Haven Mosley in the 2002 final. Genna said either Ryan Wall or Churchill will get the start against American, which beat Tallahassee Chiles 7-1 in its semifinal game.