ST. PETERSBURG — Behind a dominating pitching performance from JoJo Hess and some early offense, Northside Christian beat Shorecrest 8-1 to claim the district title Thursday.
The lone senior for Northside, Hess realized he had an opportunity to help the school win its first district championship in six years. He also understood how his maturity would be a benefit.
"I used to freak out when things went wrong so I worked on the mental aspect of the game," said Hess (5-4), who tossed a three-hit complete game that included five strikeouts and one walk. "I wasn't antsy at all before the game. I had a certain sense of calm like everything was just going to be fine."
The Mustangs (19-8) gave Hess plenty of cushion with a four-run first inning. David Edwards got things going with a lead-off single. After Shorecrest starter Jeff Reynolds struck out Connor Obrochta, in which Edwards stole second, Ryan McDonald walked. Kyle Turner smacked a single to right to score Edwards and Cam Eller followed with an infield single to short. McDonald came in to score on a groundout by Alex McGathey, then Robbie Williams brought both Turner and Eller in with a hard-hit single to center.
"It was nice to get those runs early because I didn't have my best stuff," Hess said. "I didn't have my curveball so I used this forkball-cutter that I've kind of created. And I worked on the location of my fastball."
It worked more than well enough as the Chargers
(16-11) got their first hit in the third inning and scored their only run in the fourth.