TAMPA — Clearwater Central Catholic jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning against Tampa Catholic, then held off the resilient Crusaders to come away with a 7-5 victory and the Class 3A-10 district championship.
"I told them to keep making one run and that they can't relax," CCC coach Todd Vaughan said. "I knew TC would make a comeback. I wish it was the sixth inning when we had that lead and not the first."
The first six batters reached base for CCC and five scored. Patrick Camporini singled and moved to second on a walk to Jordan Nolan. Preston Packrall singled to score Camporini and James Petika followed with a single to score Nolan. Two straight walks pushed the next run across and after a strikeout, Ryan Hallam walked to drive in a run. Chris Purcell singled to drive in Jeff Campbell and make it 5-0.
"We couldn't quit," Crusaders coach Pat Russo said. "We had to stay in the game. We haven't been behind a lot this season but I told them we have to get one back at a time."
CCC added another run in the second as Nolan walked and scored on a sacrifice fly by Petika.
The Crusaders added runs in both the second and third innings.
The Marauders scored another run in the sixth, and it was crucial as the Crusaders started their rally in the bottom of the inning. Nick Perez reached on an error. Gio Marrero and Cam Alford followed with back-to-back homers to make the score 7-5.
CCC changed pitchers from Jeff Campbell to closer Dominick Del Monte. "Campbell threw outstanding and gave me more than I planned on," Vaughan said. "(Del Monte) came in and did what he is supposed to."