Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New region baseball tournament format offers intriguing second chances

For teams such as Ricky Giles' Pasco squad, which has very good starters and a solid No. 3, this year's format is seen as an advantage.

STEPHEN J. CODDINGTON | Times

For teams such as Ricky Giles' Pasco squad, which has very good starters and a solid No. 3, this year's format is seen as an advantage.

Ricky Giles started his ace in last year's region final. Yanked him after a few batters. Brought in his No. 2. Then his No. 3 … and No. 4.

When the dust had settled, so too had the Pasco baseball season, in a heap of daring, desperate and ultimately ill-fated decisions.

But Giles had little choice but to frantically manage that game, to try to keep his team close in a game that never was.

The 16-1 loss wasn't pretty. The Pirates never had a chance.

This year, should history repeat itself, they'd get a second one.

For the first time, the region championship is a best-of-three series, a format that pleases Giles and his coaching brethren.

Today, teams will begin their quests for state with 20 quarterfinal games scheduled involving bay area teams. Winners move to Friday's semifinals then have a week to prepare for next week's region championship series.

The decision to expand the third round of the playoffs, passed unanimously in September 2006 as a two-year trial, was intended to reward teams with deep pitching staffs.

And it will.

But Giles and others like him are more intrigued by the second chance it provides.

"It will take more than one pitcher, one bad game now," he said.

Which is the way it should be.

Coaches are excited about the possibilities: a best-of-three series. A Friday doubleheader. A potential all-or-nothing Saturday afternoon game.

Managerial skills and a team's grit and sturdiness on full display.

"It's like the unknown," Land O'Lakes coach Calvin Baisley said. "I'm excited about it. I think we're going to see a lot of twists and turns."

For teams such as Pasco and Land O'Lakes, which have two very good starters and a solid No. 3, this year's format is seen as an advantage.

For others that in the past rode the strong arm of one top starter in the region quarterfinal and final (with a relief appearance in between), not so much.

This shouldn't be softball, where No. 2 pitchers have become extinct and completely unnecessary, allowing teams with one great player to dominate.

Listen closely and you can hear the clock hitting 12 on overachieving playoff Cinderellas.

"The idea, though, is to have the best teams at the end," Baisley said.

Not that unexpected playoff surprises lacking depth won't stand a chance. A side effect of the new format means teams now have a week to prepare (Read: rest).

In the past, the region semifinals and final were just a few days apart. But the Florida High School Athletic Association had to push the final back three days so players didn't miss two days of school (Tuesday and Wednesday of next week), turning that gap into a full week.

Regardless, the longer the series, the better the team that emerges, coaches say.

"The most well-rounded teams will go to state," said Gaither coach Frank Permuy, who favors the new format even though it probably won't help his pitching-thin team this year.

"There's no one-punch knockouts this year."

The region series is not, however, perfect.

If the weather turns bad, makeup series will be nearly impossible to reschedule.

In many cases, teams will have to book hotel rooms they might not even need if there's a doubleheader sweep Friday.

And how many series will be decided by each team's No. 3 or 4 pitcher? Quite a few probably.

Which is why the FHSAA is calling this an experiment.

Hopefully, it's one that works.

John C. Cotey can be reached at (813) 909-4612 or johncotey@gmail.com.

New region baseball tournament format offers intriguing second chances 04/28/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 29, 2008 3:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Arm problems in the past, USF rides pitching into AAC baseball tournament

    College

    TAMPA — By his second relief inning in last year's season opener, USF right-hander Ryan Valdes had lost the fizz on his fastball.

    USF senior right-hander Ryan Valdes, an Alonso High alumnus, is one of three prominent Bulls pitchers flourishing after undergoing Tommy John surgery last year. [USF Athletics]
  2. Ryan Fitzpatrick likes Bucs weapons, believes he's a good fit

    Blogs

    Ryan Fitzpatrick’s experience playing for six other NFL teams is what made him attractive to the Bucs as a backup to starter Jameis Winston. But if he has to play, the former Jets quarterback is happy about all the weapons on Tampa Bay’s offense.

    Ryan Fitzpatrick is happy about all the weapons on Tampa Bay’s offense.
  3. For starters: Rays vs. Angels and Trout, with Odorizzi on mound

    Blogs

    After losing Sunday's game but winning a third straight series, the Rays open a four-game series tonight against the Angels and Mike Trout.

    RHP Jake Odorizzi will be on the mound for the Rays, RHP J.C. Ramirez for the Angels.

    Evan Longoria is getting a DH day, so the Rays have rookie Daniel …

    Jake Odorizzi will be on the mound for the Rays.
  4. Lightning's Swedes live their dream in Worlds

    Blogs

    You could see it in his face.

    Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman screamed as he hoisted the World Championship trophy Sunday afternoon in Cologne, Germany, and it looked like an exhale that was years in the making. Stralman kissed the forehead of Swedish teammate Joel Lundqvist, the joy unmistakable.

    Victor Hedman of Sweden celebrate with his teammates after scoring the opening goal in the gold-medal game against Canada.
  5. Starting at top: O.J. Howard becomes first Bucs rookie to sign

    Blogs

    The Bucs have begun the process of signing their rookie draft picks and they started at the top.

    Alabama tight end O.J. Howard has signed a four-year contract with a fifth-year club option with the Bucs.