ST. PETERSBURG — Last season, St. Petersburg Catholic and Tampa Catholic split two regular-season games before the Crusaders scored an 11-1 victory over the Barons in the district final.
In the first meeting of the season Tuesday, Tampa Catholic picked up where it left off, knocking Barons starting pitcher Tim McKay around for six runs in the fourth inning to cruise 13-4.
Tampa Catholic looked like a team hitting its postseason stride. The Crusaders (5-1) had 15 hits, committed just one error that was quickly erased by a double play and kept the Barons off the scoreboard until the fifth inning.
"We overpowered them with our pitching, we ran the bases well and we got some key hits," Tampa Catholic coach Pat Russo said.
Crusaders right-hander Derek Martin threw three scoreless innings before being pulled for reliever Adam Sproat with a 7-0 lead in the fourth. Martin gave up just one hit.
The Crusaders broke the game open in the fourth, plating six runs. Nick Alfonso had the big hit, a two-RBI double with the bases loaded. Hank McCloud brought two more home later in the inning with a bloop single to leftfield.
The Barons (5-3) answered in the fifth to cut into the lead. Tito Santos led off with a single and Corey Baptist doubled down the leftfield line to put runners at second and third. Pinch hitter Logan McKenna grounded out, scoring Stewart Wilkes, who was running for Santos. Bobby Twitty followed McKenna with a single to right for the Barons' second run.
SPC got closer in the sixth on Santos' RBI groundout, but the Crusaders put the game out of reach with six more runs in the seventh inning.
"This is definitely not the kind of game I expected us to play," SPC coach John Vigue said. "We've been playing very solid defense. We didn't make big pitches and we didn't make big plays."