ST. PETERSBURG — After allowing 10 walks in a region semifinal last week, Northside Christian pitcher JoJo Hess entered Friday's best-of-three series hoping to prove the free passes were a fluke.
He did so, but the state rulebook prevented him from total domination.
Hess was on the mound for eight innings in Game 1 against Fort Meade. He tossed a two-hitter with no walks in leading the Mustangs to a 2-1 victory in extra innings. The outing went so well, coach Raul Hernandez used the exact same starting lineup in Game 2, with Hess as the starter again. Northside Christian used two-run home runs by Connor Obrachta and Hess to jump out to a 4-1 lead after two innings. But a 10-inning-a-week pitching rule prevented Hess from going back to the mound for the third inning. He had actually thrown 17 straight innings over two weeks for the Mustangs.
From the third inning on, the Miners rallied for a 5-all tie, 6-all tie and won on a bases-loaded wild pitch in the eighth inning. Game 3 is at 1 p.m. today.
"JoJo only threw about 70 pitches in the first game," Hernandez said. "We knew we only had a half-hour break, so we knew it was enough time to not get cold and continue to pitch two more innings, which he did."
Robbie Williams, who had not pitched in nine days, replaced Hess. Williams only allowed five hits, but the defense committed four errors — six for the entire game. Two of the errors came in the bottom of the eighth and led to Fort Meade's winning run.