ST. PETERSBURG — Shane Rowland hit two home runs to lead an impressive offensive outburst from Tampa Catholic as the Crusaders defeated St. Petersburg Catholic 11-1 in the Class 3A-11 championship Thursday.
The Crusaders scored six runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and invoked the 10-run rule when Eddie Fuentes' RBI double scored Cameron Alford.
"We were able to open up and swing the bats well this afternoon," Tampa Catholic coach Rich Arena said. "We have been real aggressive at the plate lately and it's been paying off."
Tampa Catholic jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning behind RBI hits from Rowland and Fuentes and increased the lead to 3-0 when Hank McCloud blasted an offering from Barons pitcher Tim McKay over the centerfield wall.
The Barons had a serious threat in the top of the third when Jake Foerster's double scored Connor Obrochta and left runners on second and third with one out. But Tampa Catholic pitcher Trent Stoker buckled down and struck out the next two batters to retire the side.
Then Rowland put on his power display.
First the junior catcher followed up a bloop single from Domenic Millan by launching a fastball over the right-center wall to make the score 5-1 in the fourth inning.
In the bottom of the fifth, Rowland hit a hanging curveball in nearly the exact spot to score Millan and Brandon Mendoza.
"Right now I'm seeing the ball real well and getting around on it," Rowland said. "The wind was blowing out and I went after the best pitch I saw."