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Jesuit starts playoff march

Jesuit High School is only about a mile from Legends Field, site of the state finals. That's where the Tigers hope to be in a couple of weeks.

But first things first. Jesuit (24-5) opened defense of its 4A state title with a 13-0 mercy-rule whitewash of overmatched Robinson in a 4A-12 district semifinal Tuesday night.

The third-ranked Tigers host Osceola, which rallied for a 5-4 win over Palm Harbor University, on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. for the district title.

Jesuit, hoping to extend its state-record string of state final four appearances to seven this year, began its tournament run by jumping on Robinson early, plating five runs in the first inning. After adding one more in the second, the Tigers broke the game open with seven in the third.

"We've played a tough schedule to get to this point, and we're fortunate to be hosting the district tournament," said Jesuit coach John Crumbley. "Right now, the big thing is that everybody's healthy. We just to have to keep working hard on practice days and take them one game at a time."

Joe Burruezo led the Tigers' offensive onslaught with four RBI, including a two-run double and a two-run single.

Ryan Gloger drove in two runs. The top seven hitters in the Jesuit order scored, as the Tigers capitalized on eight walks and five Robinson errors.

Meanwhile, the southpaw Gloger and two relievers combined on a one-hitter. Though he walked four batters, Gloger did not yield a hit and fanned seven in just three innings of work.

The Knights (5-19) managed only a bloop double by Kevin DeLavina in the fourth off reliever Chris James, who along with Pat Reed, pitched a scoreless inning in relief.

Robinson threatened only once, when the first two hitters in the second drew walks and moved into scoring position on a bunt. But Gloger (9-2) slammed the door with a pair of strikeouts.

"They swung the bats and we didn't," said Robinson coach Bill Akins.

In the afternoon game, Osceola (13-14) rallied from two runs down in the seventh to force extra innings, then won on a two-out, bases-loaded single up the box by Steve Civello in the bottom of the eighth. Jon Cross (5-2) picked up the win in relief of starter Bryan Serata, who worked the first six innings.

Palm Harbor University (8-15) took a 4-2 lead in the sixth on a two-run double by Nick Bell. But the Hurricanes committed five costly errors, including two in the bottom of the seventh that allowed the Warriors to tie the game.

Gerald Frazier had an RBI triple in the first for Osceola, and teammate Johnny Collins had an RBI double in the fourth. Chris Huber's run-scoring single was the key hit in the Warriors' seventh inning rally.

6A-5: Terriers pound out

13 hits to move to semis

TAMPA _ Hillsborough capitalized on East Lake's pitching woes to earn a 12-7 win and a spot in the semifinals at Gaither.

The Terriers (14-10) used a 13-hit attack, including homers by Robert McIntyre and Omar Ortiz, to end the Eagle season at 19-9.

Ortiz's three-run shot in the top of the sixth inning canceled out a five-run fifth inning for East Lake, giving Hillsborough a 9-7 lead.

"The key was our hitting," Hillsborough coach John Earley said. "We led the conference with 21 homers. And Omar's blast will go down in history. It showed how important senior leadership is for a team."

East Lake's pitchers struggled from the start, when starter Greg Coles was chased after allowing five runs in 1 innings. Reliever Shane Bach (5-2), who took the loss, allowed only one run and three hits before Ortiz's blast.

"We just didn't pitch well," East Lake coach Lee Byers said. "When a team scores seven runs, it's supposed to win the game."

Hillsborough pitcher Ben Otero (8-5) allowed seven hits, including a grand slam to Jeremy Kemp in the fifth inning.

The Terriers, who have won 13 of their last 16, will play Tampa Bay Tech in a semifinal tonight at 8; Gaither and King meet at 6 to determine the other finalist.

_ JOE HUMPHREY

5A-11: Jefferson snaps slump, downs Lakeland

SEFFNER _ Momentum is a much-discussed topic going into the district playoffs. The teams that have it are expected to go far, and those that don't can expect an early exit.

With Jefferson coming into its playoff game against Lakeland with four straight losses, expectations were limited for the Dragons.

But all it takes it one superb performance to spark a team forward, and in Jefferson's 6-1 win over Lakeland, pitcher Tony Rosas provided that effort.

Rosas (7-3) held the Dreadnaughts to one run on three hits while striking out eight in a complete-game victory.

"I was trying to hit my spots tonight and I had my curveball breaking pretty good," Rosas said. "But I was successful because the defense played great behind me and we got some runs early."

The Dragons (14-9) overcame a 1-0 deficit with four runs in the second inning. Dreadnaught pitcher Tim Dunbar (4-4) balked home a run, then an error and three straight singles scored three more runs.

Rosas controlled the Lakeland lineup, but nearly faltered in the third when he loaded the bases with three walks on 12 straight pitches.

"I lost my concentration a little, but I came up with a strikeout to get out of trouble," Rosas said.

Jefferson added insurance runs in the fifth and seventh innings. Donald Caldwell had three hits and two stolen bases for the Dragons, who face Armwood Thursday at 7 p.m. in the semifinals.

_ JOHN WING

3A-9: Bucs struggle but

survive test vs. SPC

TAMPA _ Losing a coin flip almost cost Berkeley Prep a post-season berth.

Though the Bucs (19-5) tied Clearwater Central Catholic for the district title, they were forced to play a scrappy St. Petersburg Catholic (12-16) in order to advance to the final. In the end, the Bucs barely outlasted the Barons 3-2, and will play CCC on Thursday.

"We just came out a little flat tonight," Berkeley coach Fred Pisano said. "We were so busy not thinking about (CCC), that we were thinking about it. I think we were probably too relaxed."

Though there was little offense, the Buc hits were timely. With two out in the second inning, shortstop Steve Gendron reached on an error.

Rightfielder Gary Goodner followed with a high fly ball that drifted its way over the rightfield fence, giving the Bucs a 2-0 lead.

Berkeley added its final run in the fourth. Pinch-runner Pat Maguire reached second on a wild pitch, and moved to third on Gendron's fielder's choice. With two outs, Maguire would score on another wild pitch.

"We made some mistakes, but we had out chances," SPC coach Mike Hoffman said. "Both teams in our district 10-run ruled us in our last two games, so I'm really proud of the way this team played tonight."

The Barons managed single runs in the third and fifth innings, while stranding five runners in scoring position.

_ DAVID MANACK

2A-10: Temple Heights

falls short of final

TAMPA _ Northside Christian wiggled out of jams in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings, picked up some timely late hits and edged Temple Heights 6-4.

Mustang reliever Chris Wiggins entered a 4-4 game with two runners on in the fifth, and pitched out of it. He coaxed an inning-ending groundout with the bases loaded in the sixth.

And in the seventh with two runners on, he froze the Eagles' Scott Silence with a breaking ball for a called third strike to end the game.

Wiggins (2-7) was the spark plug on offense as well. Pinch-hitting in the fourth, he doubled and later scored on two passed balls to tie the score at 4. His next time up, he singled with two out in the sixth, advanced to second on an error, moved to third on a wild pitch, then scored the lead run on another Temple Heights error.

The Mustangs (8-16) got an insurance run in the seventh after Marc Gillette doubled, then scored on a Rob McNeal ground ball that turned into a three-base error.

Temple Heights (11-9) scored all its runs in the third after Silence led off with a walk, moved to third on a wild pickoff attempt, then scored on a Mike Probst base hit. Three more Eagles would eventually cross the plate to give the team its only lead.

_ ERIC RANGUS

Elsewhere

BLOOMINGDALE 5, PLANT CITY 4: In 6A-6 at Bradenton, Travis West's two-out single in the bottom of the seventh inning was the difference for the Bulls.

Bloomingdale, which faces Sarasota Riverview in today's semifinals, got home runs from Justin Hancock and Travis Brown.

"Plant City really improved at the end of the season and they played really well," Bloomingdale coach K.B. Scull said. "We beat Riverview (11-1) during the regular season, but they're playing as good as anybody right now." Brandon meets Bradenton Manatee in tonight's other semifinal.

TARPON SPRINGS 1, SICKLES 0: In 5A-8 at Ridgewood, Trevor Rhodes blasted a solo home run in the fifth inning to break up a perfect game by Sickles' Casey McKenzie and give the Spongers the only run.

The Spongers (18-9) face Sprinsgtead (17-11), a 12-2 winner over Gulf, in the semifinals at 4 p.m. today.

Top seed Ridgewood (22-6) faces Land O'Lakes (21-8), a 13-2 winner over River Ridge, at 7:30 p.m.

McKenzie (6-2) retired the first 12 batters he faced before Rhodes delivered his third home run of the season over the 355-foot mark in right-centerfield to open the inning. McKenzie allowed two hits while striking out six and walking one.

Winner Steve Richie (4-1) struck out five and allowed three hits, two to Mike Chambliss.

_ JOEY JOHNSTON

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