5A, Springstead (20-5) at Armwood (16-9)
What's next? Winner faces Plant City-Ocala Forest winner.
Skinny: The Hawks have won six of eight, including four straight. They rely on the pitching arms of Sean Cramer and Josh Spano, who have combined for 106 strikeouts and an 8-5 record. Offensively, the Hawks have strong bats, including Tyler Alexander with 26 hits, 27 RBIs, nine doubles and four home runs, and Josh Spano, who is batting .447 with 34 hits, 19 RBIs, four doubles and six home runs. The Eagles, who earned their first playoff berth since 1996, need to gather themselves in a hurry. Jack Diven has a six-game hitting streak, batting at team-best .455 with 20 RBIs, seven doubles, two triples and a home run. Brandon Lawson, Bobby Pasarela and Brett Maggard have been holding things down on the mound. Maggard has a 0.83 ERA, Lawson had 43 strikeouts and Pasarela is 5-0.
4A, Mitchell (18-10) at Hernando (19-9)
What's next? Winner faces Nature Coast-Wesley Chapel winner.
Skinny: Mitchell is coming off a 3-2 loss to Wesley Chapel and is certainly looking for another shot at the Wildcats. First, the Mustangs will have to solve Hernando, a team that has perplexed opponents all season. The Leopards have been hot, winning 10 of 11, including the 4A-8 tournament title. Louis Colaiacomo, Ian Townsend and Austin McNeal are all batting .400 or better. And Justin Gates (7-4) has struck out 74 this season. Austin Rollins and Cody Gillis have combined to go 10-1. The Mustangs answer with Cody Van De Boe, Kevin Games and Conner Hale — all batting .410 or better with a combined 64 RBIs. Tim McCormick has been the steady ace with three complete games, including a 6-1 record, 40 strikeouts and a 2.73 ERA.
4A, Nature Coast (11-17) at Wesley Chapel (23-3)
What's next? Winner faces Mitchell-Nature Coast winner.
Skinny: The Wildcats have won 12 in a row and look as sound as any team in the state. Strong pitching has continued despite the absence of Brandon Mumaw because of a finger injury on his right (non-throwing) hand. The Wildcats are led by Cole Miraglia with 84 strikeouts, a 1.43 ERA and an 8-1 record. Marcus Crescentini, Matt Wynner and Jeremy Thompson have proven they can handle the pitching load as well. Miraglia, Justin Frost, Robert Dumas and Geoff DeGroot have been knocking in runs, combining for 78 RBIs. The Sharks rely heavily on ace Danny Colon (5-4), who has 98 strikeouts and a 1.87 ERA. Tommy Tambasco is batting .353 with 24 hits, 14 RBIs a double and three home runs. Wesley Chapel defeated Nature Coast 8-1 in the Big Sun Challenge.
2A, Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic (5-14) at Bishop McLaughlin (18-9)
What's next? Winner faces Tampa Prep-Lakeland Christian winner.
Skinny: Hurricanes coach Nick Rodriguez said not to underestimate Santa Fe, which plays a handful of Lakeland public schools during the regular season. Still, Bishop McLaughlin has won the first two meetings, 7-0 and 9-6. The Hurricanes are led offensively by T.J. Wharton, who is batting .434 with 33 hits, 23 RBIs, nine doubles and three home runs. On the mound, Wharton, Cy Beermann and David Heintz have combined for a 15-6 record and 104 strikeouts.
Izzy Gould, Times staff writer