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Saladino: Tampa Catholic's Packrall is crucial at crunch time

By EDUARDO A. ENCINA

Times Staff Writer

BRANDON — There was no doubt in Tampa Catholic coach Rich Arena's mind he was going to sophomore pitcher Preston Packrall in the ninth inning of the Crusaders' Saladino quarterfinal game against Jefferson on Wednesday afternoon.

Packrall has served as Tampa Catholic's late-inning reliever throughout the tournament. He pitched two innings against Riverview on Saturday morning, then an inning in the Crusaders' win over Newsome a few hours later. So after pitching in back-to-back games Saturday, Arena could ride Packrall through extra innings Wednesday.

"There was no question I wanted him on the mound," Arena said. "We just needed to wait for them to make a mistake. He's a strike machine. He's been in some big games for us."

Packrall added two scoreless innings in Tampa Catholic's 4-3 walkoff win, allowing a hit and a walk. But he also scored the winning run in the 10th. He led off the inning with a single then came around to score on an errant throw that went past first.

The win was Tampa Catholic's seventh in a row, and places the Crusaders in semifinals against Hillsborough at 4 p.m. today.

"I just go in there knowing I've got to get the job done," Packrall said. "My team's got my back and I've got their back. It feels good that they have faith in me to shut the door."

Saladino: Tampa Catholic's Packrall is crucial at crunch time 04/10/08 [Last modified: Friday, April 11, 2008 10:08am]
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