ST. PETERSBURG — Osceola has done some impressive things the past two seasons, winning consecutive district titles and advancing to the region semifinals once.
But the Warriors have not beaten St. Petersburg.
Losses to the Green Devils the past two years cost Osceola a berth in the Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship game — twice.
Both times the Warriors did not pitch ace Taylor Layner in hopes of getting by and saving him for the conference championship game.
Friday, the Warriors didn't leave anything for chance.
Pitching against St. Petersburg for the first time in his career, Layner threw a one-hit shutout and struck out eight to lead Osceola to a 3-0 victory.
The only hit came on a bunt in the fourth inning.
"We were really focused on this game," Layner said. "Everyone got each other motivated. Coach (Stefan Futch) even wore Green Devil stuff to practice to get us all mad."
Futch, who used to coach at St. Petersburg, beat his old team thanks to strong pitching and timely hitting. Jordan Ramsey went 2-for-3 and had an RBI and scored a run.
"We just went up there ready to hit," Ramsey said. "We all wanted to win the South Division of the PCAC, and we all felt comfortable having Taylor out there on the mound."
But the win does not guarantee the Warriors a spot in the conference championship game — yet. Osceola was upset by Northeast on Monday and will need to beat Pinellas Park next week to force a three-way tie with St. Petersburg and Northeast for the South Division spot. All three teams will be 6-1 in conference play if Osceola wins. The Warriors (17-3) will most likely win on tiebreakers because of a better nonconference record.
"It was a big win for us," Layner said. "Our pitching has always been there. But our hitting is starting to come around, too. And it's coming at the right time."