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Forecasting the district baseball tournament action

Land O’Lakes (21-3) ace Trey Dahl, shown throwing a pitch in a game against Pasco on March 27, has a 9-0 record and a 1.51 ERA this season and has thrown five complete games.

\uFEFFSTEPHEN J. CODDINGTON | Times

Land O’Lakes (21-3) ace Trey Dahl, shown throwing a pitch in a game against Pasco on March 27, has a 9-0 record and a 1.51 ERA this season and has thrown five complete games.

In what stands as a glaring contrast to the waterlogged regular season, very little — if any — rain is forecast for this week's local district baseball tournaments. Cloudless skies and short-sleeve weather are expected to prevail right up until Thursday, when most championship games will be held. But alas, not everything is as clear as the weather report. We see upsets on some brackets, and some unlikely heroes emerging. Here's our forecast of the week's action.

6A-7 at Alonso

Schedule: Monday No. 3 Gaither vs. No. 6 Countryside, 4 p.m.; No. 4 Mitchell vs. No. 5 St. Petersburg, 7 p.m.; Tuesday No. 2 Sickles vs. Countryside-Gaither winner, 4 p.m.; No. 1 Alonso vs. Mitchell-St. Petersburg winner, 7 p.m.; Thursday Championship, 7 p.m.

Favorite, Upset Special, Tourney MVP

Alonso (21-3). The Ravens have all the components — speed, pop, pitching and coaching — to make a serious run at a state title., Gaither over Sickles (semifinals). On paper, Sickles is better, but the Cowboys split the regular-season series with the Gryphons. Our hunch tells us veteran Cowboys skipper Frank Permuy, the only coach in Gaither history, will find a way to win this one., Alonso senior Alex Panteliodis (8-1, 1.89 ERA), because we see him outdueling fellow left-hander Patrick Schuster of Mitchell in a semifinal throwdown.

5A-7 at River Ridge

Schedule: Monday No. 4 Ridgewood vs. No. 5 Central, 7:30 p.m.; Tuesday No. 2 Wesley Chapel vs. No. 3 River Ridge, 7:30 p.m.; Wednesday No. 1 Land O'Lakes vs. Ridgewood-Central winner, 7:30 p.m.; Thursday Championship, 7:30 p.m.

Favorite, Upset Special, Tourney MVP

Land O'Lakes. Don't be shocked if the Gators (21-3), undefeated in regular-season district play, get consecutive complete-game efforts from co-aces Matt Fuglesang (6-2, 1.71 ERA) and Trey Dahl (9-0, 1.51). Each has five complete games to date., Central over Ridgewood. The Rams, who typically start only three seniors, will be playing their fifth game in seven days and could be collectively sore-armed., Fuglesang. Though erratic at the plate earlier in the season, this rangy right-hander enters the tournament on a six-game hitting streak. We predict at least four hits and one pitching victory this week.

4A-8 at Springstead

Schedule: Monday No. 8 Gulf vs. No. 9 Hudson, 6:30 p.m.; Tuesday No. 2 Nature Coast vs. No. 7 Wiregrass Ranch, 5 p.m.; Gulf-Hudson winner vs. No. 1 Pasco, 7:30 p.m.; Wednesday No. 3 Zephyrhills vs. No. 6 Sunlake, 5 p.m.; No. 4 Hernando vs. No. 5 Springstead, 7:30 p.m.; Thursday Semifinals, 5 and 7:30 p.m.; Friday Championship, 7:30 p.m.

Favorite, Upset Special, Tourney MVP

Pasco (20-5). In a district where the top three seeds are loaded with pitching depth, Pasco's staff has emerged as the strongest and steadiest. In the unlikely event that the Pirates' pitching does falter, well, the top five hitters all are batting over .300., Sunlake over Zephyrhills. Granted, Seahawks ace Connor Coplon (elbow) may not pitch, but it may not matter. The Seahawks defeated the Bulldogs 5-1 on April 10 behind junior Phillip Keys (12 strikeouts)., Nature Coast senior Travis Murray does it all for the Sharks. The team's leading everyday hitter (.586), he also has won five games on the mound and typically calls pitches when catching. We see him stepping up this week and leading the Sharks into the playoffs.

2A-9 at Tampa Prep

Schedule: Tuesday No. 1 Bishop McLaughlin vs. No. 4 Calvary Christian, 4 p.m.; No. 2 Tampa Prep vs. No. 3 Indian Rocks Christian, 7 p.m. Thursday Championship, 7 p.m.

Favorite, Upset Special, Tourney MVP

Bishop McLaughlin. The Hurricanes extend their breakthrough season with a district title on the very field coach Nick Rodriguez (a Tampa Prep alumnus) once played., None., Picking one hitter from Bishop McLaughlin's potent lineup is next to impossible, so we'll go with 6-foot-6 Hurricanes senior Chris Overbeck, the staff ace.

1A-6 at Hernando Christian

Schedule: Monday No. 4 Lecanto Seven Rivers Chr. vs. No. 5 Cedar Key, 10:30 a.m.; No. 3 Ocala Shores Chr. vs. No. 6 Ocala Meadowbrook, 1:30 p.m.; No. 2 Ocala St. John Lutheran vs. No. 7 Leesburg First Academy, 4:30 p.m.; Tuesday Shores-Meadowbrook winner vs. St. John Lutheran-First Academy winner, 1:30 p.m.; Seven Rivers-Cedar Key winner vs. No. 1 Hernando Christian, 4:30 p.m.; Thursday Championship, 4:30 p.m.

Favorite, Upset Special, Tourney MVP

HCA. The Lions finished 11-1 in district play, their lone blemish being a one-run loss to Seven Rivers. In eight of its other 11 games, HCA scored at least 10 runs., Well, Seven Rivers could shock HCA again, but we don't see that happening., HCA freshman Ian Townsend hit better than .500 for most of the season and has collected more than 10 extra-base hits. He's also likely to pitch in this tournament.

Forecasting the district baseball tournament action 04/19/08 [Last modified: Saturday, April 19, 2008 10:49pm]
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