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Thursday's heroes

DANNY PLASENCIA, Jesuit: The junior rightfielder went 1-for-2 with two RBI. He also made a diving catch down the rightfield line that sent him tumbling over the bullpen fence.

DAVID BARTELT AND JOSH WEIS, Jesuit: The junior-senior combo allowed one run on four hits. Bartelt threw the first three innings, allowing the lone run and three hits. Weis then gave up no runs over the final four innings.

JASON BORNSTEIN, Eustis: The junior scattered seven hits, allowed two runs (none earned) and improved to 12-0. He also went 1-for-2, scored a run and drove in a run.

TONY McCOY, Eustis: The junior leftfielder went 1-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored.

Today's games

CLASS 5A

Gonzalez Tate (27-6) vs.

Merritt Island (28-4), 1 p.m.

THE SKINNY: This is a battle of recent state powers. Tate won the Class 6A title in 1998; Merritt Island won the Class 5A championship last year. Tate has five pitchers with ERAs of 2.31 or lower, and Josh Deason owns a 0.81 ERA in 52 innings. Merritt Island counters with Kevin Deaton, a 6-foot-4, 270-pound offensive lineman who is 11-1 with a 1.49 ERA. Merritt Island came into the final four second in the state with 60 home runs, three behind Zephyrhills.Tate has only 12.

Sarasota (26-7) vs. Nova (31-2), 8 p.m.

THE SKINNY: The Sailors' Jason Miller is ranked as one of the top 25 prospects in the country by Baseball America, a status he backs up with gaudy stats. He is 10-0 with a 0.88 ERA and 136 strikeouts in 71 innings. He threw a no-hitter against strong-hitting Land O'Lakes in a 4-0 regional semifinal victory. Nova, however, might have a better hitting lineup than Land O'Lakes. Six starters hit .402 or higher. Sarasota doesn't have a player hitting better than .400, but has a .309 team average.

CLASS 6A

South Miami (19-10) vs.

Wellington (30-1), 10 a.m.

THE SKINNY: Wellington is ranked No.

3 in the nation by Baseball America and is a heavy favorite to defend its state title. The Wolverines' loss was 7-6 to Melbourne Palm Bay in a national tournament. Wellington wins with pitching _ see Sean Burnett (0.81 ERA and 97 strikeouts in 60 innings) and Brian Stitt (0.86 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 57 innings). But the Wolverines also hit well, with four starters hitting above .434. South Miami, meanwhile, has not hit for a great average (.290) or overwhelmed its opponents from the mound. The Cobras' top three pitchers have ERAs of 3.05 or higher.

Oviedo (28-3) vs.

Orlando Colonial (28-5), 5 p.m.

THE SKINNY: Oviedo has averaged almost eight runs a game and has scored more than 10 runs nine times. The Lions have a .350 team average and 33 home runs. Colonial has some offense of its own (.330 team average), but it also appears to have a pitching edge. Colonial has two solid pitchers in Chris Reed (10-1, 0.82 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 67 innings) and Dennis Cavilla (9-3, 1.95 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 79 innings). Oviedo is expected to start Paul Lubrano (1.49 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 56 innings) or Jered Goodwin (2.57 ERA). J.C. Blass (1.88) also is available.

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