TAMPA — After picking up the save last week against Boca Ciega in Jesuit's opening-round playoff game, Michael Sandborn said if given the option, he'd prefer to start. Tuesday, Sandborn demonstrated why.
Sandborn pitched six strong innings, and Joe Epstein escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh as Jesuit beat Robinson for the fourth time this season, defeating the visiting Knights 4-0 in a Class 5A region semifinal.
"At first I was a little nervous and wild but slowly as the innings went on, I started to lock in a little more," said Sandborn, who struck out four and gave up three singles.
Sandborn was on cruise control most of the night and only threatened in the third. Robinson's (10-16) Shawn McGory and Darius Autry singled to open up the inning. They advanced on a groundout, but Sandborn got a strikeout and grounder to wiggle out of the jam.
The senior lefty went out for the seventh but walked the first batter he faced. Epstein came on then walked a pair but got Tommy Craparo to groundout, ending the game.
"I wasn't nervous at first but after the second walk I was," Epstein said. "I just wanted to just focus on throwing strikes."
Ryan McCullers' RBI single scored Nick Ortega in the first and Braxton Rupp hit a sacrifice fly to score Nick Perillo in the fourth, who narrowly avoided the tag at home to make it 2-0.
Jesuit used some small ball — and heads-up base running — to pad its lead in the sixth. With runners on second and third, Ronnie Ramirez laid down a well-placed suicide squeeze. Perillo scored from third and on the throw to get Ramirez at first, Danny Lastra alertly hustled around from second to make it 4-0.
6A: Lions cruise
SEMINOLE — King and Osceola took the unconventional route into Tuesday's Class 6A region semifinal. The Warriors knocked off district champ Jefferson, and the Lions downed district champ Mitchell.
Both teams like to put pressure on the bases. So something had to give and it was the Osceola defense. The Warriors gave up six unearned runs on six errors, falling 10-3 to the visiting Lions.
Warriors starting pitcher Buddy Dougherty went a strong 41/3 innings, fanning five and walking two. But the fielding errors started in the second and by the time the hook came it the fifth for Dougherty, it was 5-0 with only one run earned.
The Lions were stingy and intuitive on defense, twice picking off runners trying to steal without even a throw home, while the pitcher still had the ball.
"I talked to about five coaches that had played (Osceola) and they all said they like to run," King coach Jim Macaluso said. "So we had a signal if the runner was leading off too much, we would just give the signal and the pitcher would go (make the throw) to first."
Macaluso said it was actually starting catcher Jose Lopez that made the signals to try and pick the runners. Lopez was 1-for-2 with two walks and an RBI at the plate. The Lions got just enough hitting, another couple RBIs from Bubby Terp and Ethan Thomas.
The Lions were 6-for-6 stealing bases against the Warriors, who mounted a short rally in the sixth but ground out with the bases loaded to keep it 10-3. Tyeler Checkley (10-1) struck out seven in five innings for King.
5A: Sunlake moves on
LAND O'LAKES — In a battle of district runners-up, Sunlake's historic run continued Tuesday night with a 3-0 win over Pasco in a Class 5A region semifinal.
Sunlake's David Castillo and Pasco's Malik Johns were locked in a pitchers' duel most of the game. Castillo, a left-hander, scattered three hits, struck out six, walked two and hit four batters. The right-handed Johns allowed five hits with two strikeouts and two walks.
"Malik did a great job and David did as well," Sunlake coach Dick Rohrberg said. "They just kept throwing strikes."
The game was scoreless until the bottom of the sixth inning when the Seahawks (19-9) mounted the only rally. Colton King and Castillo singled for the game's first back-to-back base hits. Johns walked Zac Howard to load the bases before an uncharacteristic error from Pasco second baseman Phillip Wilson led to two runs. Howard scored the final run on Zac Scranton's suicide squeeze.
"He got a tough hop. It was a tough play," Rohrberg said of Wilson's error on a ground ball.
Before that play, Wilson made a diving catch on a line drive to his right and ranged to his left to snare a ground ball that prevented a Sunlake base runner from scoring.
The Pirates (17-11) had one last chance to score when Castillo hit Corey Mills and Johns in the top of the seventh. The game ended when Robbie Hanlon grounded out to second baseman Omar Cala, who was cheating toward the middle and stepped on the bag for a force out.
Correspondents Andy Warrener and Steve Lee contributed to this report.