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4A baseball: Jesuit gets late homer to edge Osceola

Jesuit’s Daniel Cooper slides safely into home past a misthrown ball to Osceola catcher Evan Hock in the second.

MELISSA LYTTLE | Times

Jesuit’s Daniel Cooper slides safely into home past a misthrown ball to Osceola catcher Evan Hock in the second.

SEMINOLE — The first time Jesuit's Kris Johnson made contact in the seventh inning, the ball drifted beyond the first-base line into foul territory before falling out of an Osceola outfielder's glove.

A few pitches later, Johnson fouled off another pitch that drifted toward the backstop. He was given another chance when the Warriors catcher misjudged the flyball and it dropped foul.

The third time he made contact, Johnson made it count, walloping a pitch that sailed beyond the left-centerfield for a home run that turned out to be the winning run in a 4-3 victory in the Class 4A region quarterfinals.

The Tigers improve to 25-3 and move on to play in Friday's region semifinals. Osceola ends its season at 22-6.

"I was frustrated after the first few foul balls," Johnson said. "I just told myself I wasn't going to miss another fastball again. It felt great coming off my bat and once I saw the leftfielder didn't move, I knew it was gone."

Until that point, the Warriors had seized momentum, rallying from an early 3-0 deficit by scoring twice in the second inning and once in the fifth inning to tie the score.

In the sixth, Osceola appeared to be in good position to go ahead with a runner on third with one out.

But Jesuit starter Daniel Gibson struck out one batter, then Lance McCullers came on in relief to strike out the next to end the threat.

"We told (Gibson) once he came out in the sixth that we weren't going into extra innings," Johnson said. "We were going to win the game for him."

Johnson's heroics spoiled an otherwise strong performance from Osceola's Taylor Layner, who allowed six hits and struck out 11.

"We knew Taylor was going to be tough to hit and he got a lot of strikeouts against us," Jesuit coach Richie Warren said. "We had to make the most of our opportunities when we put the ball in play. We got just enough hits, especially with that big home run, to get us through."

The Warriors' best chance to tie ended when Josh Townsend hit a deep flyball that was caught at the warning track in the bottom of the seventh.

. Up next

Region semifinals

Games Friday at 7 unless noted

5A: Seminole at Dunedin (Jack Russell Stadium), 7:30

3A: Tampa Catholic at Clearwater Central Catholic

2A: Northside Christian at Shorecrest, 4

4A baseball: Jesuit gets late homer to edge Osceola 05/05/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 5, 2010 12:42am]
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