ST. PETERSBURG — David Edwards hadn't started a game on the mound since spring break. He hadn't pitched at all since April 17. Saturday, he was asked by Northside Christian to start the most important game of the season: the deciding game of the Class 2A region final against Fort Meade.
Edwards, a junior, started tough with three no-hit innings. But in the fourth, he gave up a three-run home run to George Senterfitt. The 340-foot blast was the difference in the game — and best-of-three series — as the Miners reached the state semifinals with a 4-0 victory behind Bryan Langston's six-hitter.
"I like outfield way more than pitching, but I felt prepared," Edwards said. "I was ready to come out here and play."
Edwards' last pitching appearance for Northside (22-10) came during the second-to-last regular-season game, against St. Petersburg Catholic. Throughout the playoffs, he held his ground in the outfield until getting the call against Fort Meade (19-14).
"By the fourth inning, I didn't locate (a pitch), and they hit a three-run bomb," said Edwards, who allowed six hits and two walks and struck out two. "I wish I had it over. It was an inside pitch and a little high. I was supposed to go low and inside."
The home run was the first of the season for Senterfitt, who was 0-for-7 in the series before that at-bat. He later added a double.
Northside coach Raul Hernandez said he learned a valuable lesson during the first year the region final was a best-of-three.
"The three guys we threw this series were the best guys we have," he said. "Obviously, (Fort Meade) threw only three guys as well, and it was good enough for them.
"But I think it doesn't hurt to have four or five guys who can help you."