TAMPA — Clearwater Central Catholic and St. Petersburg Catholic figured out early in Tuesday's Class 3A, District 10 semifinal that it was best to be stubborn at the plate.
A tight strike zone meant pitchers had to work that much harder. Hitters for both teams took advantage. The deeper the count, the more pitches they could see.
The Barons' plate discipline paid off in the fourth inning when they repeatedly worked the count, drawing three walks, including one with the bases loaded to score a run. Another run came on a passed ball.
The Marauders also let pitches go by.
Their result was even better.
In the fifth inning, CCC sent 10 batters up, drew four walks and had three hits. More important, the Marauders scored six runs. It was exactly what CCC needed in a 6-5 victory over its fiercest rival.
The Marauders, the No. 2 seed, will face top seed Tampa Catholic in Thursday's championship game.
"We had to work our at-bats well," CCC coach Todd Vaughan said. "Our plan was to score once in the fifth inning, once in the sixth and win it in the seventh. But we were able to load up the bases and get some key hits."
The big hits came on a two-run double by James Petika and a two-run triple by Jeff Campbell.
"We just had to battle through," Petika said. "(Justin) Tedder is a tough pitcher and we got his number in the fifth inning. We kept a positive attitude and everything clicked."
The Marauders (16-8) needed every run.
In the seventh, the Barons made a furious rally, cutting the deficit to one on a three-run homer by Connor Obrochta. But CCC's Dominic Demonte got the next batter to strike out and final two to fly out to end the game.