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Fighting for the finals

Baseball | Region semifinal preview

Baseball: region semifinal breakdown

Class 2A: Naples St. John Neumann (17-7) at Northside Christian (20-8), 7 p.m.

How they got here: St. John Neumann — beat Shorecrest 2-1; Northside Christian — beat

Community School of Naples 8-7

About St. John Neumann: The Celtics are in the playoffs for the first time since 2005. Will Affleck kept their season going with a two-run homer, his first of the season, in Tuesday's quarterfinal win. Affleck is hitting .412. He can pitch and will most likely start tonight. He is 9-1 this season with a 0.97 ERA.

About Northside: The Mustangs have won seven of their past eight. JoJo Hess, tonight's probable starter, has won six straight after losing his first four. He has got plenty of run support from a strong lineup that includes David Edwards, Ryan McDonald and Robbie Williams.

Up next: The winner faces the Fort Meade-Winter Haven All Saints' winner.

Class 3A

Fort Myers Bishop Verot (16-12) at Clearwater Central Catholic (25-2), 7 p.m.

How they got here: Bishop Verot — beat Tampa Catholic 3-1; CCC — beat Sarasota Cardinal Mooney 6-2.

About Bishop Verot: After starting 4-9, the Vikings have won 12 of 15 games. Bobby Borchering (six HRs) and Austin Flores (five HRs) lead Bishop Verot's offense. Borchering started Tuesday's quarterfinal win against Tampa Catholic.

About CCC: The Marauders, the defending state champions, are in the region quarterfinals for the third straight year. CCC knocked off the Vikings in the region quarterfinals last season and beat them again in the preseason this year. Ryan Weber, the Times' 2007 all-county and all-Suncoast pitcher of the year, most likely will start tonight. Sam Mende, who signed with USF, has a team-high 10 home runs.

Up next: The winner faces the Frostproof-Fort Pierce John Carroll winner.

Class 5A

Plant (25-3) at Dunedin (21-6)

at Englebert Complex, 7:30 p.m.

How they got here: Plant — beat Palm Harbor University 8-6; Dunedin — beat Chamberlain 4-3

About Plant: The Panthers, led by former Largo coach Dennis Braun, are in the playoffs for the first time since 2004. For most of the season, Plant was ranked in the state poll and nationally. Mychal Givens will most likely be the Panthers' starter. He won his first eight games this season before losing the regular-season final to Sickles. He came back to throw a three-hitter in the district semifinals.

About Dunedin: The Falcons have made the playoffs nine times in the past 11 years. But this is their first region semifinal appearance since 2004. In the preseason, Dunedin beat the Panthers 7-3. Max Kreuter, Danny Gardner and Alex Norris combined on a three-hitter in that game. The Falcons will most likely go with Jacksonville recruit Clay Kollenbaum tonight.

The game will air live on

Catch 47, complete with color commentary from Times staff writer John C. Cotey.

Up next: The winner faces the North Port-Bradenton Bayshore winner.

>>Fast facts

Region semifinals

When: TodayAdmission: $6

At stake: A berth in next week's region finals, a best-of-three

format

Baseball: region semifinal breakdown 05/01/08 [Last modified: Saturday, May 3, 2008 12:56pm]

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