CLEARWATER — Gaither didn't call its shot Tuesday afternoon, a double over the rightfielder's head that ended Mitchell lefty Patrick Schuster's attempt at a fifth consecutive no-hitter.
The Cowboys did, however, accurately predict whose bat it would come off: Drew Doty's.
The red hot junior outfielder proved his teammates right, turning on an inside fastball in the third inning as the gaggle of TV cameras swerved to catch a piece of local baseball lore.
"I knew it was a hit right away,'' Doty said.
The Cowboys went on to win 9-4 and advance to the region playoffs, but it is Doty's shot that will be remembered most and replayed on TVs across the country.
"The first thing I thought it might be (Justin) Delgado because he's pretty aggressive and he's a good ball-strike guy. When he walked, I was like, eh, Doty is probably going to do it here sometime,'' Gaither coach Frank Permuy said.
Sometime came in the third inning when Schuster started him out with a slider. It was the same way he started Doty's first at-bat of the game (a groundball to second base), before coming back with a fastball.
Once Doty saw a slider on the first pitch, he sat on the fastball.
"Same sequence,'' he said, smiling.
Schuster pointed at him as he stood on second base and nodded in approval. Doty had doubled in their previous meeting to almost the same spot.
"I faced him before and I was looking at the chart before the game: he's 1-for-7 against me and I've struck him out three times and I've hit him three times,'' Schuster said. "He's that one kid that can always get a good at-bat with me. I don't know what it is about him, but he can hit me somehow.''
Doty has been on fire since the start of the Saladino tournament, where Gaither lost in the final. He's now 17-for-34 in his past 12 games, with five doubles, four triples, five homers and 15 RBIs.
And Doty had a streak of four of his own this season — four straight homers. He hit three in his last three at-bats against King two weeks ago, and the next game against Chamberlain homered in his first.
"I've been in the zone,'' Doty said.
"He's really seeing the ball real good right now. …He's been on a tear,'' Permuy said. "He's got the (Hillsborough) county record, four home runs in four consecutive at-bats. I haven't heard of anyone doing anything like that. Four home runs in four at-bats is a pretty impressive feat. It just got kind of got lost in the shuffle.''