Class 6A, district 7
Green Devils get out
of jam to earn title
TAMPA — St. Petersburg closer Jacob Barnes struck out Gaither's Zach Taborelli with two outs and runners on first and second in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Green Devils a 5-4 victory and the district championship.
"I just wanted to get ahead of (Taborelli). Everything was a lot easier after that," said Barnes, who went 1-for-4 and scored two runs.
Even though both teams advance to the region tournament, the Green Devils (18-10) will stay home while Gaither (16-8) travels to face Sarasota.
The Cowboys, a young team with only seven seniors on their roster, had four errors.
The final mistake came in the sixth, when Jordan Clay reached second after an error by Gaither's rightfielder. Clay scored the winning run on an RBI single by outfielder Clarence Wilson.
"We can't be dropping fly balls and have four errors in a game in our 24th game of the season," Gaither coach Frank Permuy said. "I'm disappointed, very disappointed."
Both starting pitchers had short outings. Gaither senior Shawn Gough left after 41/3 innings and 85 pitches, allowing three earned runs, walking two and striking out one.
St. Petersburg's Ryan Andrzejak lasted just 21/3 innings and allowed two earned runs.
Green Devils coach Stefan Futch said playing a tough schedule early, including facing two defending state champions on the road, paid off for his team.
"I put them in the most adverse situations as possible in a championship setting, and we learned a lot from that," he said.
Martin Bater, Times correspondent