Many suggest the state's decision to expand the prep baseball region finals into a best-of-three series plays right into Pasco's hands. We say it plays into their arms. With no fewer than eight capable hurlers, the Pirates (25-5) shape up as a prime beneficiary of this new format, which is intended to reward deep pitching staffs. "All these guys can throw," coach Ricky Giles said, "and I won't hesitate to use 'em." As early as Friday, when the Pirates play the first two of a three-game series at Palatka, Giles' claim could be put to a stern test. Here is a look at the Pirate pitchers who could take the mound this weekend.
Height, weight: 6-2, 170
Record, ERA: 6-3, 1.86
Pitches: fastball, curve, changeup, knuckleball, slider
Best game: Since Pasco lost the one-hitter Brandt threw against Hernando in early February, we'll defer to his two-hit shutout of River Ridge on March 12. Brandt faced only 24 batters, fanning eight and walking one.
Scouting report: "He's got a solid arm, is well composed, has command of three pitches, and competes. There have been a couple of outings we had with him over the course of his career where he's been on the mound and not had his best stuff, but has competed, kept his club in ballgames with just willpower. That's the first thing that jumps out at you as an opposing coach." — Hernando coach Donnie Whitehead
Height, weight: 6-2, 160
Record, ERA: 7-0, 0.98
Pitches: fastball, curve, change, slider
Best game: In an 8-1 home triumph over Nature Coast on March 25, Johnson scattered five hits, struck out six and walked none.
Scouting report: "He threw strikes and he kept the ball down and he didn't seem to take any pitch off. He threw every pitch like it had a purpose. … He was fundamentally sound. He attacked us and made good pitches." — Nature Coast coach Bob Shepard
Height, weight: 6-0, 170
Record, ERA: 8-1, 1.79
Innings: 47K/BB: 66/21
Pitches: fastball, curve, changeup, slider
Best game: We'll go with his complete-game performance in the district finals, a 3-1 win over Nature Coast. Brown tossed a three-hitter, striking out six and walking none.
Scouting report: "He's an exceptional talent. … He's upper 80s to low 90s, and has a quality out pitch and above average breaking ball and is probably the spiritual leader of that ballclub. As he goes, so goes Pasco." — Whitehead
In the bullpen
Eric Dee (6-4, Jr., RHP): 18 IP, 3-0, 2.72 ERA
Chris Dious (6-1, So., LHP): 71/3 IP, 0-1, 1 Sv, 2.86 ERA, 5 K, 1 BB
Matt Gude (6-2, So., LHP): 3 IP, 3 K
Matthew Hampton (6-2, Jr., LHP): 8 IP, 1-0, 3.50 ERA, 6 K, 0 BB
Giles says: "They come with a variety of stuff. They don't overpower you, but they all throw good changeups, good curveballs. The same trait they have is they do hit spots, so I won't hesitate to throw them any time, any day. We play defense behind them, and they can be just as good as some other guys."
The ace in the
Centerfielder and No. 9 hitter Josh Johnson hasn't been summoned to the mound often this season (two IP), but only because Giles hasn't needed him. On most other teams, Giles suggests, Johnson (.319, seven HRs) might be a regular in the rotation. "Josh can throw the ball up in the low 90s," Giles said. "I felt we were deep enough where we didn't even have to mess with him. We didn't want to take him out of the field. But if we have to go that way we can go that way."