CLEARWATER — The teams played in different classifications, so the stakes were not that high.
But for Clearwater Central Catholic, the challenge was immense.
The Marauders hosted Jesuit, a team that entered Tuesday's game undefeated and was ranked among the top two teams in the nation.
A win for CCC would have extended its win streak to two years against its neighboring county rival and given the Marauders the satisfaction of knowing it did something special.
And for six innings, they at least had a chance.
CCC stayed within two runs until allowing the Tigers to bat around in the top of the seventh and score five runs. That spelled doom for the Marauders, who lost 9-2.
"We kind of let things get out of hand at the end," CCC coach Todd Vaughan said.
The Marauders (9-10) struggled at the start of the game, allowing a three-run homer to Joe Hudson in the first inning.
But CCC showed a willingness to fight back, scoring in the first on a home run by Preston Packrall.
The Tigers added another run in the top of the third and the Marauders countered with one in the bottom half of the inning.
After that, CCC starter Patrick Camporini got into a groove, striking out seven of the next 12. Camporini was relieved by Dominick Delmonte in the top of the seventh. He allowed three hits and was hurt by his defense, which committed two errors. That led to five runs to break open a close game.
The outcome was similar to the final of the Dunedin Spring Invitational last week when the Marauders led Tampa Catholic 4-3 before giving up four runs in the seventh.
"We still have to find a way to win the close one," Vaughan said. "Patrick kept us right there in the game. And we put runners on. We just couldn't get anything going when we needed it.
"We're young and we're trying, so I can't get down on the effort."