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CCC ace shuts out Gators

Justin O'Keeffe needed only a few pitches Monday night to figure out it was going to be his night.

"After the first couple of swings, I could tell they were having trouble with the curveball," he said. "They weren't even touching it. So I kept throwing it."

And Land O'Lakes kept struggling with it, through five innings and a 10-0 loss as O'Keeffe's undefeated Clearwater Central Catholic team moved into the semifinals.

The Marauders (15-0) had only six hits, but they all came in the fourth and fifth innings as CCC scored all 10 of their runs.

CCC was helped by the wildness of the Gator pitchers.

Philip Whitten was super through the first three innings, holding the Marauders without a hit, but walked three and gave up four hits in the fourth inning.

CCC scored seven runs in the inning to chase Whitten. Jamie McKean, Steve Saunders and Shawn Williams had RBI singles.

A pair of bases-loaded walks the following inning finished off the Gators (6-9) by the 10-run rule.

"We got lucky; he got wild," said CCC coach Todd Vaughn.

O'Keeffe (5-0) was coming off an 11-strikeout no-hitter last week over Tampa Prep. With another shutout, he lowered his ERA to 0.88, allowing five hits, striking out six and walking no one.

It was another sterling performance by a member of the CCC pitching staff. The Marauders are No. 3 in Class 2A, and the team's pitching is a big reason why. Monday's shutout was the team's ninth this season, and it has outscored the opposition 106-9.

"I think this is basically what we expected to do this season," said O'Keeffe. "We were focused and knew what we wanted to do, and we're able to rely on a lot of different arms."