CLEARWATER — In baseball parlance, it's called a twin killing. But on Friday, double plays killed the Marauders.
Tampa Catholic turned five double plays in its Class 3A region semifinal at Clearwater Central Catholic.
Combined with timely hitting and pitching from starter T.J. Owen and reliever Derek Martin, the Crusaders erased the memory of three straight losses to the Marauders, with a 5-2 victory.
Tampa Catholic (18-10) made its first region final since 2006.
"We knew if we didn't walk a lot of guys and we let them put the ball in play, we were going to be okay," TC coach Pat Russo said. "We played great defense today, but I think more than anything else, we got some big hits."
The Crusaders did the bulk of their damage in the second inning to chase CCC starter Dominick Del Monte. Cameron Alford led off with a double and scored on Nico Millan's RBI single.
Millan stole second and scored with Billy Endress on Matt Darrigo's single to leftfield. Darrigo came home when CCC first baseman Jeffrey Campbell couldn't come up with Shane Rowland's hard chopper, which put the Crusaders ahead 4-0.
Owen, who benefited from double plays in the first and second innings, got one more in the third to end CCC's biggest threat after the Marauders (19-8) loaded the bases and cut the lead to 4-1 on James Petika's walk.
"They had five double plays, and every one of them was big for them," CCC coach Todd Vaughn said.
After allowing a hit to open the fourth, Owen gave way to Martin, who shut down CCC in the fourth, fifth and sixth.
Martin walked Jordan Nolan and gave up back-to-back singles to Preston Packrall and Petika to make the score 5-2 in the seventh, but struck out Campbell.
"They got the hits when they needed. We didn't," Vaughn said. They earned the win."