When Armwood's Denny Summerall strode to the plate with two out in the bottom of the 10th inning Thursday, with the score tied, he remembered three things _ the three home runs he already had hit this season against Jefferson pitcher David Grantham.
Summerall put these memories to good use, driving a 1-2 fastball over the fence in left-centerfield to give Armwood a dramatic 4-3 win and a berth in the Class 5A, District 11 final.
"I've been able to hit him all year," Summerall said. "I tried to keep my swing short and go the other way. I felt it was gone right away."
That the Hawks were still in the game in the 10th was due, in large part, to the Herculean efforts of starting pitcher John Gorham, who struck out a school-record 19 batters in a 168-pitch performance.
Early in the game, Gorham struggled as Jefferson took a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning. In that frame, Gorham had two wild pitches, a balk and a hit batsmen, and Jefferson's Donald Caldwell added a double to give the Dragons the lead. But in what would become a familiar pattern, Gorham used a strikeout to get out of trouble, as Jefferson left two runners on base for the second of four times in the game.
Gorham said the excitement of playing in the district playoffs carried him through his struggles.
"My Adrenaline was flowing and that's probably why I didn't feel tired," Gorham said. "This is the first time I've gone 10 innings, and this is the best game I've ever pitched, especially after the third inning."
The Hawks (15-9) tied the game on a Ryan Vernoy single in the sixth inning, but appeared to lose the lead in the top of the seventh. With two outs, Jefferson's Eugene Rodriguez hit a single to left, and Ariel Hernandez rounded third and slid around a tag-attempt at home, with the umpire signalling safe. But Armwood catcher Jimmy Lowe appealed the play, claiming Hernandez had failed to touch the plate, and the umpire reversed his call.
Jefferson coach Pop Cuesta said the umpire should not have made an initial signal.
"When the ump made the safe call, my runner went into the dugout thinking the play was dead," Cuesta said. "Usually the ump will not make a call and both the catcher and the runner will know the play is still alive."
Jefferson (14-10) escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the eighth inning, but couldn't hold off Summerall in the 10th.
In the other semifinal, Durant's Mike Fryrear drove in the go-ahead run with a single in the sixth inning, and the Cougars tacked on two-insurance runs in the seventh to beat Lakeland Jenkins 7-4.
Armwood and Durant meet at 7 tonight in the final, a rematch of this year's Western Conference championship game won by Durant 11-0.
4A-12: Jesuit wins
4th title in a row
TAMPA _ Rain shut down play for nearly an hour during the third inning between Jesuit and Osceola. The host Tigers then proceeded to shut down Osceola.
Third-ranked Jesuit secured its fourth straight district crown with a 7-2 victory over the Warriors, and will host a regional quarterfinal game Tuesday against the 4A-11 runner up. The Tigers (25-5) are looking to extend their state-record string of state final four appearances to seven. Jesuit has advanced to the regionals each year since 1991, ironically the senior year of Minnesota Twins star Brad Radke.
"This is important because it means that we'll be playing at home next week," said Jesuit coach John Crumbley, who guided his club to state titles in 1994 and again last year.
The Tigers led 1-0 when the game was delayed for 50 minutes before their half of the third inning, and when play resumed, broke open the contest with two runs in both the third and fourth. In the third, Ryan Glover had arun-scoring single and scored on a triple by Bryan Koehler.
Jesuit (25-5) took a 5-1 lead in the fourth, thanks in large part to an Osceola error on a doubleplay ball. Andrew Shafii drove in a run with a groundout, and Jeff Christy, who drove in the first Jesuit run in the first with a double, followed with a run-scoring sacrifice fly.
The teams exchanged a pair of runs in the sixth, perhaps because the rain resumed and made the ball difficult to throw accurately. Each team had three errors in the inning, with the bulk of them coming on throws.
Koehler went the distance for Jesuit on a yield of four hits. The U.S. Naval Academy-bound senior walked just one batter and fanned seven.
"That was a complete performance," Crumbley said of Koehler, who also helped his own cause with three hits. "Bryan's had a nice year."
Osceola starter Jarrett Gurski took the loss, allowing eight hits. He struck out two and allowed two bases on balls. Gurski also had the lone extra-base hit for the Warriors, who are now 13-15 overall. Gerald Frazier had a sacrifice fly in the sixth.
_ TODD TUBERGEN
3A-9: CCC drops
TAMPA _ The wind was blowing out early at Berkeley Prep's Carson Field and Clearwater Central Catholic was able to take advantage of it, hitting three solo home runs in the first three innings to spark a 5-2 victory over Berkeley in the championship game.
The district title is the third in a row for the Marauders.
Chris Hart hit a leadoff homer off Berkeley's Adam Prida in the bottom of the first to put CCC up right from the start.
CCC added two more runs in the third when Jeff Probst and Aaron Diehl hit back-to-back home runs.
Diehl was also spectacular on the mound throwing a complete game allowing only two hits and striking out 11. During one stretch he struck out six Buccaneers in a row.
Berkeley scored one in the second inning when Ryan Dixon doubled and later scored on an infield single by Steve Gendron.
The Bucs only other run came in the sixth when Diehl walked three batters and unleashed a wild pitch that went to the backstop allowing Alex Sullivan to score.
CCC coach Todd Vaughan said the three home runs were huge for his team.
"We knew they were going to throw Prida the off-speed left-hander," he said. "We told the guys to just stay in there and go with what he gives you. And all three of our homers ended up going the other way."
_ KEITH PEARLMAN
6A-6: Rained out
BRADENTON _ The championship game between Bloomingdale and Bradenton Manatee was rained out. It will be played at 7:30 tonight at G.T. Bray Park.