ST. PETERSBURG — St. Petersburg's home field, Huggins-Stengel, has one of the most expansive outfields in the area. Balls hit into the gaps can roll forever and hits that normally would be doubles often can be stretched into triples.
Plant found that out early in Tuesday's Class 6A region quarterfinal.
Plant hit balls that found their way between Green Devil outfielders and went back toward the wall. So the Panthers kept running and running until they reached third. In the first three innings, Dylan Henderson Kyle Woodford and Stan Rowe each hit triples to ignite an offense that jumped out to a 9-1 lead.
That was more than enough for an 11-6 victory.
"We had been struggling on offense lately, and our pitching was carrying us," Panthers coach Dennis Braun said. "But we were able to hit the ball into the gaps and get some extra bases out those hits."
In all, Plant (19-10) had 13 hits, four for extra bases. The Panthers almost added another but the umpire ruled Woodbury did not touch second on what would have been his second triple of the game in the seventh.
"Whatever we threw, they hit," St. Petersburg coach Dan Breece said. "Every good pitch, they found a way to get through. It was just their day."
Down 9-1, the Green Devils (18-10) got a run each in the third and fourth innings and three more runs in the fifth. But they could not get any closer.
"I knew we were capable of making a run or two to get back into the game," Breece said. "But Plant had a bunch of breaks go their way and kept us from really grabbing momentum."
Clarence Wilson and Chris Davis each had a double and a triple to lead St. Petersburg.