Class 2A state baseball: Brooks-DeBartolo vs. Orangewood Christian
When: Friday, 10 a.m.
Where: Digital Domain Park, Port St. Lucie
Admission: $8 per session
On the Web: Live updates on tampabay.com/hometeam
About the Phoenix (14-14): Brooks-DeBartolo, a fourth-year school and third-year baseball program makes its first state appearance in any sport in its first year of postseason eligibility. The Phoenix entered the region tournament as a district tournament runnerup, but topped district rival Bishop McLaughlin, which had beaten the Phoenix three times this season, in the region semifinal 4-3. Brooks-DeBartolo came from behind to beat 2010 state finalist Shorecrest 4-2 in the region final to seal its state berth. The Phoenix played a challenging schedule for a 2A school, with the highlight a 6-1 win over 5A-8 No. 1 seed Plant City. Phoenix senior left-hander Javier Reynoso, a Coastal Carolina recruit, had 22 strikeouts in 11 2/3 innings through regionals. Offensively, Reynoso (.593, 10 doubles, eight homers, 37 RBIs), outfielder and Coastal Carolina recruit Adam Eggnatz (.598, 17 doubles, seven homers, 32 RBIs) and infielder Brendan Rivera (.530, nine homers, 30 RBIs) form a lethal trio.
About the Rams (32-1): Orangewood Christian is ranked No. 11 in the nation by ESPN Rise and 19th overall by MaxPreps. This is the Rams' second straight trip to the state tournament. They lost in the semifinals last year to eventual state champ Westminster Christian. Their only loss this season was to 6A region finalist Orlando Dr. Phillips. Orangewood Christian beat state power Jacksonville Providence in the region final for the second straight year, this time by a 10-8 score. The Rams are loaded with talent, led by senior infielder Dante Bichette Jr., son of the former major leaguer of the same namesake. A Georgia recruit, Bichette is hitting .640 (55 for 104) with 10 homers and 40 RBIs. An Under Armour All-American, Bichette shares the same wide-open stance as his father and incredible power. At the Power Showcase at the Trop in January 2010, he hit a contest-high 20 homers. FIU recruit Tomas Nido leads the Rams with 17 homers and 64 RBIs to go with a .577 average, while Notre Dame signee Alex Carter adds a .490 average 15 homers and 50 RBIs.
Photo: Dante Bichette Jr., courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel