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PORT ST. LUCIE — A quick look at Tampa Prep’s season stats reveals the Terrapins don’t often collect extra-base hits. In fact, 81 percent of their hits this year have been singles.
Knowing this, Jacksonville Providence pulled its outfielders in Wednesday and on several occasions, bloopers and bleeders that would normally fall for hits instead fell into the Stallions’ gloves.
Add in the fact that Tampa Prep faced two Division I signees on the mound, and the result was a 4-0, two-hit loss to Providence in the Class 3A semifinals. It was the Terrapins’ first state tournament appearance.
“They’re the best team we’ve played all year, that’s safe to say,” said Tampa Prep starting pitcher Durin O’Linger. “They have great pitching, great fielding, great hitting — they’re just a great team.”
O’Linger pitched the first five innings for Tampa Prep (19-10) and held the potent Stallions offense to six hits and three runs. Providence (26-5), though, received six additional baserunners courtesy of three walks and three hit batters.
And a one-out walk to Dillon McNulty, the No. 7 hitter, in the second inning resulted in the game’s deciding run. Leadoff hitter Christian Dicks, a Florida signee, singled him home with two outs for the 1-0 lead.
That score held until the fifth inning. O’Linger, who said the stagnant, 90-degree heat at 10 a.m. was a factor, gave up back-to-back singles and walked a batter to load the bases with no outs. The Terrapins managed a force out at home to earn one out, but Providence freshman Brooks Lockett hit a bloop single to centerfield to score two more.
“It was 0-2, I had swung at a bad pitch, so I knew he was going to throw off-speed,” said Lockett, the younger brother of Walker Lockett, a USF commit who will start in the final. “I was just trying to shoot the ball the other way.”
Tampa Prep was limited to just two hits off of Tyler Martin and Zac Farve, who will both pitch for Central Florida next year. Both of the Terps’ hits came from the bottom of the order, as No. 8 hitter Kirby Wilson singled to center in the second, and No. 9 hitter Matt Hodges did the same in the seventh. Wilson’s single loaded the bases in the second, but Tampa Prep could not score.
Laura Keeley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.