TAMPA — The reward for Gaither's comeback effort Tuesday night was another game in the Saladino Tournament — with little time to celebrate.
The Cowboys' 7-6 win over Hillsborough was the nightcap at UT, and the final game to end three days of pool play. The victory earned Gaither, the winner of three Saladino tournaments, a spot in today's quarterfinals. The Cowboys will play Wharton at Brandon at 10 a.m. — just more than 12 hours after their game was completed.
It left longtime Gaither coach Frank Permuy scrambling to make sure all his players had rides to Brandon for 8:15 a.m. batting practice.
"This would be like going to school and falling asleep in first period," Permuy told his team about getting to bed early.
"As soon as I get home, I'm going to bed," junior centerfielder Drew Doty said.
Doty was 3-for-4 with two doubles and a triple, including a two-run, two-out double in the top of the sixth that proved to be the winning hit in a game that included four lead changes.
"I think the youth helps their resilience," Permuy said. "They never know when to give up."
The Cowboys took a 4-0 leading into the bottom of the third, highlighted by Mike Danner's towering homer to rightfield in the first inning, one of his three RBIs.
But the Terriers rallied in the third with four runs, sending 10 to the plate. Jay Laurienzo hit a two-run single to open the scoring, then was followed by a run-scoring single by Tyler Luper. Hillsborough's fourth run came when Daniel Dominguez was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Trailing 6-5 in the top of the sixth, an infield single and a walk, followed by a sacrifice bunt put runners at second and third with two outs when Doty took Luper's 2-2 pitch to down the rightfield line for a double.
"I was looking for an off-speed pitch, but he came in and jammed me with the fastball but I looped it," Doty said. "I'll take it."
Hillsborough's Marlon Mitchell was 3-for-4.