TAMPA — Making his first high school start, Brandon Caples pitched like a wily veteran.
The King freshman mixed pitches, threw strikes and earned a 5-2 complete-game victory on the road against Sickles on Friday night.
"We asked him to take the ball tonight in an important game and he did a great job," coach Jim Macaluso said. "He is a good kid and works hard."
With the district win, the Lions (8-6, 6-3) are in position to battle for the second seed in Class 5A, District 9.
Caples didn't overpower any batters, but he used off-speed pitches and a cutter to keep the Gryphons (8-5, 5-4) guessing. The right-hander struck out four and surrendered three hits while walking only two.
"When you can throw strikes you have got a chance," Macaluso said. "That is so important at the high school level, and he did it in his first start."
It also didn't hurt that Caples had a pair of clutch pickoffs at first base and got great defense behind him with a couple of big double plays.
King scored two in the first, then Sickles answered with two runs of its own. But after two singles in the first, Caples allowed only one more hit. The Lions manufactured two runs in the third and another in the sixth on a wild rundown en route to the win.