East Lake won its third straight district championship with the same formula it has used all season: Pitching, defense and timely hitting.
The Eagles overcame a two-run deficit to defeat Sarasota Riverview 3-2 Thursday night. Ryan Wall gave up three hits and one earned run in four innings, and reliever Brad Deppermann recorded three perfect innings to lead the way. Offensively, the Eagles had five hits, which was just enough to beat Riverview starter Blake Wyant.
"Our guys followed the game plan," East Lake coach Dan Genna said. "We had good defense, good pitching. We average giving up about two runs per game. There ya go, two runs tonight. We followed the script."
The script probably didn't call for the Eagles (23-3) to trail early. But Riverview scored a run in the first when leadoff hitter Jared Pruett reached on an infield error. He stole second, went to third on a fielder's choice and scored when Sean Labsan hit a fielder's choice ground out to first.
The Rams scored again in the top of the fourth without getting a hit. Wall hit Kyle Washburn with one out. Washburn went to second when Alex Detweiller walked. Then East Lake tried to turn a double play on a Sam Jeffcoat grounder, but Doug Rovello's throw to first went wide and enabled Washburn to score.
Wyant was perfect through three innings, but East Lake's second time through the order proved productive. Troy Strominger led off with a single, and Rovello followed with a single as well.
After a double steal, Grant Hodges grounded to second to score Strominger. Keegan Maronpot then had an RBI single that scored Rovello.
The winning run came in the bottom of the fifth. Tyler Neuhaus walked and one out later stole second. He went to third on a fielder's choice groundout by pinch-hitter Cameron Churchill.
That brought up sophomore designated hitter Sawyer Wirth, who hit a high hopper to second and barely beat out the throw to first. His infield single scored Neuhaus to make it 3-2.
"I was just thinking I've got to hustle no matter what," Wirth said. "The best thing happened and we were able to get that run. All I could do was run my heart out."
That run was all Deppermann needed. He retired all nine batters he faced as East Lake improved to 8-1 in one-run games.
"That (run) was big," Deppermann said. "It gave me a lot of confidence to just throw strikes and get it done."
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2A-9: Canterbury stuns unbeaten foe
Canterbury handed Sarasota Christian (25-1) its first loss of the season, 9-6 in the Class 2A-9 district final at Sarasota. Pat Walsh pitched a complete game to earn the win. Freshman catcher Dave Siegel was 3-for-4 with three doubles.
"We were so focused for this game," coach Dave Smith said. "We went down there with a nothing-to-lose attitude. They were supposed to win. They haven't lost all season, so let's see what we can do."
Canterbury (11-14) had 10 hits. The Crusaders scored three runs in the first inning and took a 7-2 lead halfway through the game.
Rodney Page can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @ RodneyHomeTeam.