TAMPA — No Gaither bat was left out of Thursday night's hit parade at Sickles.
And at this point in the season with district play wrapping up, there aren't many teams with a more potent lineup than the Cowboys.
Gaither's season started slowly — the Cowboys lost two of their first four — but the Cowboys won their 11th straight game Thursday night thanks to an unmerciful offense, walloping district foe and neighborhood rival Sickles in a 12-0 five-inning mercy-rule win.
The Cowboys (13-2, 10-0) clinched the top seed in the Class 5A-9 district tournament last month with a 16-hit outburst.
"They have a little 'Murderer's Row' there," Sickles coach Bob Pagano said. "You knew coming in to the year they'd be good, but now they've really got it rolling.
"My pitcher came off the mound saying, 'I threw them every pitch.' "
Every Gaither starter had at least one hit. Eight of the nine scored. Leftfielder Matt Frey drove in a run on each of his three plate appearances, and first baseman Brady North had three hits.
The Cowboys peppered the gaps with seven extra-base hits (without any home runs). Second baseman Justin Delgado doubled and tripled. Centerfielder Drew Doty hit one of Gaither's three triples. Even No. 8 hitter Joey Voskerichian and No. 9 hitter Gil Leon had two hits apiece.
Gaither pounced on Sickles' left-handed starter Tripp Merrell — who entered the game with a 1.87 ERA — taking advantage of a leadoff walk and a fielding error to score three runs in the first inning and never looked back.
"We're hitting the ball well," Gaither coach Frank Permuy said. "Right now it doesn't matter if it's a lefty or a righty. We've seen enough lefties the past couple years. These guys have really been working hard."
Sickles (8-7, 5-5) managed just one hit in four innings off Gaither starter Zach Jackson. The Gryphons has just six baserunners the whole game. It didn't help that they grounded into inning-ending double plays in the fourth and fifth innings.
For seven innings, a pitcher's duel unfolded between East Lake's Zach Gordon and St. Petersburg Catholic's Justin Tedder in Dunedin.
Gordon had the better result.
He was economical and nearly untouchable in the semifinal, allowing four hits and striking out eight in a 2-0 victory.
"I knew it could be a battle between the pitchers," Gordon said. "We were both throwing well. I was able to throw all three of my pitches and had enough runs to give some wiggle room."
Will Fulmer, who reached on a walk in the second inning, scored the winning run on a throwing error. The Eagles (12-3) added another run on a home run by Steven Croyle in the fifth.
The biggest scoring threat the Barons had came in the fourth inning when they had the bases loaded with no outs. Gordon got out of the jam by inducing two straight batters to ground out, the last one producing a double play.
The Eagles will play the Clearwater Central Catholic-Dunedin winner in the championship game Saturday at 3 p.m. at Dunedin Stadium.
Countryside 6, Tampa Catholic 5: The Cougars scored six runs in the first inning to hand the Crusaders their second loss in as many days. Nick Perez went 3-for-4 with two doubles for Tampa Catholic.
Bob Putnam, Times staff writer