RIVERVIEW — Riverview played host to a hot Newsome team that has won eight of its past nine. And the race in Class 5A-8 got even tighter as the Sharks beat the Wolves 12-4 Friday night in a key district matchup — leaving Riverview, Newsome, Durant and Armwood tied with Plant City still holding onto the first-place spot.
"We all have beat each other once so all of the teams are pretty much split down the middle," Riverview coach Bill Leiby said. "It's going to come down to the wire and to who is playing well on the day of the district game."
Leiby said his team has been anxiously waiting to play the Wolves again after Riverview fell to Newsome 3-2 earlier in the season.
Senior Josh Botts' RBI double opened up the scoring and from there Riverview's bats came alive as the Sharks (12-7, 6-5) scored six runs in the first inning.
"We knew we had to come out and put pressure on them early," Leiby said. "We worked on it all week, and we have been swinging bats very well as of late."
Botts had another RBI double, this time in the fourth inning. After the Wolves' Alex Parker (3-5) gave up a few hits, senior Nick Branca came on in relief. But Branca's inside fastball to Sharks junior Justin Rose turned into a grand slam, making the score 11-0.
"I was in a slump for a few games, but I am finally coming out of it," Rose said. "The one-on-one encouragement I have had from my coaches has helped me see the ball better."
Newsome avoided being blanked as Alex Kerr and Keller Powers added RBI singles in the fifth inning. The Wolves (13-7, 7-5) also scored on a Riverview error and junior Tyler Packanik added an RBI double as the Wolves made it 11-4.
The Sharks' Dylan Drawdy (3-2) got the win after he pitched five innings and had seven strikeouts.