ST. PETERSBURG — A year ago, Shorecrest lost in the first round of district play. That precipitated a coming together of each player who would return this season, which was everyone, for almost daily workouts in the weight room or the baseball field in the offseason.
The result? A whipped-cream pie in the face from teammates to sophomore starting pitcher Mark Brakeman after Thursday's 10-3 win in the Class 2A, District 11 championship over rival Northside Christian.
Shorecrest turned a slim 2-1 lead in the third inning into a rout by scoring four runs in the third and four in the fourth. The substantial lead was plenty enough for Brakeman (5-1), who gave up three runs and five hits over five innings.
"We made a commitment after losing last year that we'd work as hard as possible to take our potential to the next level this year," Brakeman said. "We knew we had the talent to achieve something like this."
Playing in front of packed stands, host Shorecrest (19-8) took advantage of six walks and two hit batters, three of which came in the decisive third inning with two outs. After Jason Kiracofe kept the inning alive with a single, five more Chargers reached, highlighted by Brent Rasmussen's two-run single.
"We had a close game against them (in the teams' first meeting, a 2-0 win by Shorecrest) and we knew we had to score when we had the opportunities," said the Chargers' Andrew Roy, who went 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI. "Once we got the lead, we knew Mark would take care of business."