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Programs lose playoff debuts

Two first-year schools, Blake and Wharton, got their first taste of district playoff action Monday and both found the going rough. Blake was no-hit by Palm Harbor University 11-0 and Wharton lost a 1-0 thriller to Robinson.

Palm Harbor junior Wes Buckles dominated from the start, striking out the first five batters before finishing with 11 strikeouts in a five-inning no-hitter. Only a one-out walk in the fourth inning spoiled a perfect game for the left-hander.

"I was trying to get ahead of every batter, and honestly, I was trying to strike them all out," Buckles said. "I hit my spots better than I ever have."

The Hurricanes (8-14) had 11 hits to support Buckles, who improved to 2-7 on the year.

"That's the best he's ever thrown," said PHU coach Jim Felch. "He was throwing his changeup for strikes any time in the count. I've been waiting for him to do something like this. I could tell when he was warming up in the bullpen that this was going to be a special night for him."

Robinson (5-17) broke a scoreless tie with an unearned run in the seventh against Wharton (6-17).

With two outs, senior Bryan Crump singled to center and stole second on the next pitch. But when Wharton reliever Ben Griggs worked the count full to Craig Baker, Robinson coach Bill Akins decided to send Crump to third.

"We'd left runners on base all day," Akins said, referring to eight Knights left stranded through six innings. "I was hesitant to have (Crump) steal third, but we had to get something going or we'd have stranded another."

Wharton catcher Joey Livingston's throw to third hit Crump and ricocheted toward the Robinson dugout, allowing Crump to scamper home.

Knights starter Shannon Murphy (2-6) pitched a four-hit shutout, striking out nine.

Palm Harbor advances to play Osceola today at 4 p.m. while Robinson takes on Jesuit at 7:30.

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