TAMPA — Longtime Gaither baseball coach Frank Permuy isn't a huge fan of 10 a.m. starting times.
"The breakfast game," he said. "Nobody likes the breakfast game. It's hard to get going, especially when you're not used to doing it."
Luckily for the Cowboys, who have another 10 a.m. game Monday, the early start didn't faze pitcher Alex Milne, as he threw a complete-game, one-hitter to blank Sickles 3-0 at the University of Tampa in the opening game of the annual Saladino Tournament.
Milne, a senior who has committed to UCF, did surrender eight walks, but the Gaither defense bailed him out every time, including a one-out, bases-loaded threat in the fourth that was ended by a 4-6-3 double play.
The Cowboys (7-3) were equally efficient with their hits as well, stranding only four runners. Leftfielder Tyler Tyson led off the game with a single to center, and Oscar Mercado drove him in two batters later with a sacrifice fly to left for a 1-0 lead.
In the third, Gaither first baseman Jose Gonzalez hit a two-run triple, the only extra-base hit of the game, as Hayden Kelly and Mercado scored to give the Cowboys a 3-0 advantage.
"We didn't strike out a lot, and that's always key for us," Permuy said. "That's key, to have a good, two-strike approach and put the ball in play."
Also advantageous for Gaither is the fact that Milne went the distance, saving Evan Gainey and the other arms for later this week. And, as Milne noted, the zero on the scoreboard for Sickles (6-4) will aide the Cowboys if they don't win their pool outright.
"I'm glad we didn't give up a run today, because we need any help we can get," Milne said. "There's a lot of people that will be up for the wild card."
In the other Pool G game, Alonso (7-3) built a 10-run lead over Tampa Bay Tech heading into the bottom of the fifth, with a no-hitter going as well, but the Titans (1-9) scored two runs in the fifth and one in the sixth to extend the game. The Ravens, though, ended up with an 11-3 win. Junior Tommy Lynch went 3-for-3 with four RBIs for Alonso, which will play Sickles on Monday.