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Olsen delivers for Countryside

In one tall swing, Greg Olsen rewrote Countryside baseball lore. The Cougars had waited 20 seasons for a district baseball title; Olsen waited until there were two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning with Countryside down by a run.

Coach Jack Withrow predicted the historic event, but he needed his captain to make it a reality Friday at Dunedin Stadium. With a 2-and-1 count, Olsen turned on an Adam Wilzinski fastball and deposited it in the trees that tower some 380 feet away in leftfield.

With Olsen's third home run of the season, came a 7-6 Countryside victory over Seminole, which had led the entire way. The Class 5A, District 9 crown was the first in school history.

"I was confident we would come back," Olsen said. "(Wilzinski) threw two curveballs in a row and I was thinking he's got to throw a fastball."

Just before Charlie Carapazza drew a two-out walk, Withrow turned to his bench and did his best Babe Ruth impression.

"I said, "Charlie is going to walk and Greg is going to hit it out,' " Withrow said. "Greg has been hitting real well. I just had a feeling."

Things were a little different in the early going as Seminole took a 5-0 lead in the top of the first, powered by Mike Thornhill's two-run triple. Trevor Hall (6-3) was relying on his fastball and the Warhawks (20-9) were ready for it. But after two trips to the mound to settle his pitcher down, Withrow had his first gut feeling and kept him in.

"I told him to throw his breaking ball for strikes," Withrow said.

Hall complied and scattered five hits the rest of the way. Meanwhile, the Cougars chipped away at the Seminole lead.

They got one run back in the first, then scored two in the fifth as Hall hit a single to center scoring Mike Barclay. Bronk Allen doubled and scored in the sixth, but Countryside left two runners on for the second time.

Countryside, which defeated Seminole for the fourth time this season, didn't gain the momentum until leftfielder Mike Boychuk pegged Thornhill at home in the top of the seventh after Thornhill tried to score from second on a John Killalea single. The Cougars (18-10) rode that emotion into the fateful bottom half of the inning.

5A-8: Tarpon wrests

crown from Rams

NEW PORT RICHEY _ They came, they saw, they shut everybody down.

Tarpon Springs' pitching staff completed a remarkable three-game run at the tournament with a 2-0 victory over host Ridgewood in the championship game.

Starter Steve Richie and closer Grant Abrams combined to three-hit the heavy-hitting Rams and struck out 11. For the tournament, Tarpon Springs allowed just nine hits and two runs.

"We were kind of focused," Richie said. "We concentrated on the game. We've been going over hitting charts all weekend from previous games. This is pretty big for me. This has been our goal."

The Spongers (20-9) host District 7 runner-up Ocala Vanguard Tuesday night in a regional quarterfinal. Ridgewood (23-7) travels to District 7 champion Belleview.

Richie (5-1) went four innings, allowing two hits and striking out six. This after tossing a complete-game three-hitter in a 1-0 first-round victory Tuesday over Sickles.

Abrams went the last three, giving up one hit and striking out five to get his sixth save.

Tarpon Springs scored in the second inning on Anthony Thran's single, and in the third on a throwing error that allowed Abrams to score from first.

Tarpon Springs got a lift from the return of Steve Patterson, who this week got the cast off his broken thumb and made a key play at first base in the third inning.

_ DAMIAN CRISTODERO

5A-8: Northside scores 14

but loses to Tampa Prep

TAMPA _ During the district final at Tampa Prep, the scoreboard was lighting up like a pinball machine. And when the game was over, Tampa Prep had made history.

The Terrapins secured their first district baseball title, surviving a wild 16-14 slugfest with Northside Christan. Tampa Prep (17-8) hosts Fort Meade Tuesday in a regional quarterfinal game. Northside Christian (8-17) visits Lakeland Santa Fe.

The game featured 32 hits (14 for extra bases) and lasted almost 3{ hours. Tampa Prep jumped to a 10-0 lead after two innings, and led 13-3 before Northside struck for seven runs in the fourth.

The Mustangs added four more in the sixth to pull within 16-14 and had the game-tying runners aboard with one out, but reliever Nick Rodriguez, the Terrapins' fifth pitcher, doused the fire by striking out cleanup hitter Rob McNeal and getting Charlie Branham to fly to end the threat.

B.J. Quigley (8-2) picked up the win. The Terrapins were led offensively by Ryan Devars, who had a two-run homer in an eight-run second and three total RBI, and Ryan Quigley and Adriel Fiallo, who also drove in three runs apiece. David Kellogg added four hits and scored three runs.

Starter Bob Alsina (0-3) was the loser for Northside Christian, which has lost to the Terrapins three times this season. The Mustangs had their chances early, but stranded seven runners in the first three innings.

"I'm proud of our guys, especially our seniors (Mark Gillette and Chris Wiggins)," Mustangs coach Bob Dare said. "To come back and play like we did after being down by 10 runs when it was 13-3, I thought we might have folded up our tents at that point."

_ TODD TUBERGEN

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