Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

5A baseball: After almost 50 years, King gets back to state

King players boost coach Jim Macaluso, who waited 35 years for state, on their shoulders.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

King players boost coach Jim Macaluso, who waited 35 years for state, on their shoulders.

TAMPA — There was the time seven years ago when King stranded the winning run 90 feet away on this very field. And back in 1987, when a team buoyed by future major leaguer Derek Bell ran out of luck two games short.

During his program's finest moment in nearly a half century, King baseball coach Jim Macaluso replayed the close calls. They were always close to making the state tournament, always one play away.

"We've knocked on the door but we were just never able to get it done," Macaluso said.

So it was fitting that on King's home field, the Lions finally broke through Friday night.

"They're playing with so much confidence and so much heart," Macaluso said.

Throughout the Class 5A region tournament, King lived in a pressure cooker. Following the Lions this postseason has not been for the faint of heart.

King tested defeat yet again in Friday's region final against Seminole, but the Lions' pitching proved too strong as King earned its first state tournament berth since 1964 with a teeth-gritting 2-1 victory over the Warhawks.

Macaluso was lifted on the shoulders of his players, then doused with Gatorade. After 35 years of waiting for his first state tournament, the longtime King coach is a rookie again.

And his players huddled into a circle, region trophy in tow, chanting the mantra they embraced after their sudden boost in confidence since last month's Saladino tournament.

"It's doable," yelled winning pitcher Devin Smith.

Doable indeed. The Lions managed just five hits, but manufactured two runs early with a combination of small ball and slap singles. Javaris Reynolds scored on a Keon Barnum sac fly in the first inning, then pinch runner Devon Pedro scored Brett Morales' RBI single in the second.

And Smith set the tone with another stellar postseason start, allowing just one run on four hits over 5 2/3 innings.

"We played a hell of a game," Smith said. "I was so focused this game. I told myself I could do it. All I was thinking about all week was this game."

The Lions (19-10), who have allowed just four runs in three region tournament games, tested the limits against the Warhawks (24-6). King stranded the bases loaded in the fifth and sixth innings.

"This was extreme competition," said Karlton Knapp, King's former No. 1 starter turned closer. "I'd rather have these games than have blowouts. It wouldn't be half as exciting."

. Up next

State tournament

At Tradition Field, Port St. Lucie

6A: Alonso vs. Hialeah American, 1 p.m. May 21

5A: King vs. Pace, 1 p.m. May 24

5A: Armwood vs. St. Thomas Aquinas, 8 p.m. May 24

4A: Jesuit vs. Ponte Vedra, 10 a.m. May 21

3A: Tampa Catholic vs. Bolles, 5 p.m. Wednesday

5A baseball: After almost 50 years, King gets back to state 05/14/10 [Last modified: Friday, May 14, 2010 11:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Crosstown rivals Bloomingdale-Newsome kick off season

    Footballpreps

    LITHIA — In a week filled with area football rivalries, there is a game on the east side of Hillsborough County — Bloomingdale vs. Newsome — that has matured into a classic crosstown battle, complete with classic cliches.

    Bloomingdale wide receiver Ed Amos charges through a drill a few days before the big rivalry game against Newsome on Friday night.
  2. Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast: Several key players still sidelined

    Bucs

    Greg Auman gives an injury update, with several key players still sidelined from practice three days before the Bucs play the Cleveland Browns in Tampa, and a full recap of your favorite scenes from Tuesday …

    Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans was held out of practice Wednesday at One Buc Place. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]
  3. Playoff ambitions evident in opener for Zephyrhills, Wiregrass Ranch

    Footballpreps

    WESLEY CHAPEL — A new football season in Pasco County begins Friday night, but this one promises to be like none before it — with more math than ever. A new playoff system emphasizes schedule strength, making non-district tilts particularly important.

    Wiregrass Ranch wide receiver Jordan Miner catches a pass in spring practice at Wiregrass Ranch High School in Wesley Chapel on Monday, May 1, 2017.
  4. Dirk Koetter says Bucs used team meeting to discuss social issues

    Bucs

    Four days before their preseason home opener against the Cleveland Browns, which had 12 players not stand for the national anthem prior to their last game, the Bucs used their team meeting to discuss social issues that might have led to that demonstration, coach Dirk Koetter said.

    "The main thing is we have to respect everybody's opinion," Dirk Koetter said, "because everybody is not going to agree." [AP photo]
  5. Rookie tight end Antony Auclair making case to stick with Bucs

    Bucs

    Don't let his modest preseason stats fool you: Antony Auclair, the undrafted rookie tight end from Canada is making a strong case to stick around on the Bucs' 53-man roster this season.

    Bucs tight end Antony Auclair (82) collides with a defender following a catch during training camp. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]