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Region baseball:

TRINITY — When Mitchell's Alex Mendez hit a bases-loaded grounder to third in the bottom of the sixth inning, King catcher Jose Lopez did everything right to prepare for the game-saving double play.

That didn't stop his coach from worrying.

"Usually, when you try to do it … you see the ball go down the line," King coach Jim Macaluso said.

But not Thursday.

The Lions escaped the jam with a rare 5-2-3 double play and held on for a 4-2 win over Mitchell in the Class 6A region quarterfinals. By qualifying for its third consecutive region semifinal, King (21-6) eliminated the Mustangs (17-11) for the second year in a row and ended the prep career of ace Cobi Johnson.

The Florida State recruit and possible first-round draft pick struck out nine batters through 51/3 innings with a fastball that touched 91 mph. In front of almost a dozen pro scouts, Johnson threw 56 of his 88 pitches for strikes and stole two bases.

"He's a good one," Macaluso said.

King finally broke Johnson in the sixth. After Zion Lawrence earned a leadoff walk, Lopez launched an outside fastball for a triple off the rightfield wall. Michael Taylor added an RBI double to end Johnson's night, and Kobe Barnum walked with the bases loaded to push the lead to 4-1.

Mitchell kept it close thanks, in part, to some lucky sixth-inning bounces. Ryan Fontaine reached on a roller. Kamren Powers singled with a well-placed bunt. Ryan DelNegro's grounder caromed off the mound for an RBI base hit that loaded the bases.

But King ended the rally with a break of its own, a double play Macaluso said his team practices once a decade.

"I just always hope it doesn't come up in the game," Macaluso said. "But it was the right two guys."

Mendez chopped the ball to senior third baseman Bubby Terp. Lopez ripped off his mask, and Terp charged to fire the ball home.

"I was ready for it," Lopez said.

Lopez — a possible draft pick with one of the bay area's strongest arms — fired the ball to Barnum at first to end the inning and preserve Tyeler Checkley's ninth win of the spring.

4A: Berkeley goes on

TAMPA — When Berkeley Prep senior Dante Bosnic reflects on his prep career, he is certain to replay the fifth inning of a 7-0 victory against Lakeland McKeel in the Class 4A region quarterfinals.

Nine pitches, three strikeouts.

It was the apex of a standout performance from the right-hander.

Bosnic combined with Casey Keller on a two-hit shutout, and Berkeley (16-12) parlayed five errors by McKeel (11-17) into five unearned runs to advance to Tuesday's matchup against Tampa Catholic.

"This late in the year — the whole year for that matter — you have to take advantage of other teams' mistakes," Berkeley coach Justin Houston said. "We were able to do that."

Berkeley got the only run it needed in the first on an error. It broke the game open with a four-run third, ignited by a Bosnic triple. Anthony Pellegrino followed with an RBI single, and the other runs scored on an error.

But the night belonged to Bosnic (6-3), a Brown commit who pitched the first five innings. After allowing back-to-back singles with one out in the first, Bosnic retired his final 14 batters. He threw only 47 pitches, 37 for strikes. Of the 17 batters he faced, Bosnic threw 14 first-pitch strikes, including to the final 11.

"I was hitting my spots, and I really pounded the inside with the fastball," Bosnic said. "Once I pounded the inside and brushed them off the plate a little, I could work in with off-speed."

His final inning was the talk of the dugout.

"We were laughing about that," Bosnic said. "That is the first time I've ever done that."

Said Houston: "Dante has had not just a great year for us, but a great career. He's such a great leader."

2A: Bayshore rolls

TAMPA — Bayshore Christian avenged a season-opening loss to Lakeside Christian with a 12-4 victory in a Class 2A region quarterfinal. It's the program's first playoff win.

Right-hander Evan Holland threw a complete game and struck out seven for the Faith Warriors.

Times correspondents Don Jensen and Brian Burns contributed to this report.

Region baseball semifinals

7 p.m. Tuesday

7A: Sickles at Wiregrass Ranch

5A: Pasco at Sunlake

3A: Tampa Prep at Bishop McLaughlin

Region softball final

7 tonight

5A: Belleview at Hernando

Region baseball: 05/01/14 [Last modified: Thursday, May 1, 2014 11:01pm]
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