SEMINOLE — Northeast pitcher James Gray stands 6-foot-4 and weighs "right around 200." His fastball has been clocked in the low 90s. Yet, the scary thing for Vikings' opponents this year is that the senior right-hander knows there's still plenty of room for improvement.
After Saturday's performance in which Gray dominated Clearwater in his first high school start, any more improvement will seem like icing on the cake.
Pitching in front of college and professional scouts during the opening round of pool play at the 12-team Osceola Spring Invitational, Gray allowed one run over five innings on five hits and two walks in Northeast's 8-1 win over the Tornadoes. Gray also had three strikeouts.
"One of the things I need to do is gain weight so I can increase the speed on my fastball," Gray (2-0) said. "Now, as a starter, I also have to learn that I can't just try to gas it by (every batter). I have to keep the ball low in certain situations, and I have to have a lot of command."
Northeast coach Rob Stanifer made the decision to switch Gray from closer to starter this week after seeing the tall righty develop control with his offspeed pitches during recent bullpen sessions.
"He's worked hard at making improvements across the board, but the biggest reason we decided to move him from closer is his ability to throw the breaking ball for strikes," Stanifer said. "He did a great job locating it tonight. He knows how to pitch. He's got starter stuff."
Jerrod Flanagan homered and scored two runs for the Vikings (11-3), and Phillip Woods had an RBI single, RBI double and reached after an error.
Kraig Richmond went 2-for-2 with an RBI for the Tornadoes.
In a night game, Tyler Brown scored Osceola's fourth run of the sixth inning as the Warriors beat Lakeland Tenoroc 14-4 in a game halted by the 10-run rule. Every player in the order for Osceola (12-2) had at least one hit, and all but one scored. Josh Townsend had two hits, two walks and three runs scored, while Brock Jensen had three singles, a walk and two RBIs. Zach Matacchiero allowed three runs (one earned) on three hits and one walk.
Pool play continues Monday, with the consolation games and the final Thursday.