LARGO — There are still more than three weeks left in the regular season, but on Tuesday Pinellas Park took all the mystery out of who will represent the south in the PCAC championship game.
The Patriots got another solid performance from starter Brandon Grigsby and a key two-RBI double by Jeff DeTrano in the fifth inning to lead the Patriots to a 5-3 win over St. Petersburg.
Pinellas Park (10-5) is 6-1 against PCAC south teams. The win also put Pinellas Park back on the winning track after losing to Dixie Hollins on Monday night.
“We had our chance to clinch it against Dixie and we failed,” first-year Patriots coach Pat Russo said. “So this win was big for us. We got some key hits, which we haven’t gotten a lot of lately.”
Pinellas Park started by getting a run each in the first two innings off Green Devils starter Alex Wilson. Darrel Weber had an RBI single in the first that scored Ryan Reinoso. Grigsby had an RBI double in the second that scored Darren Peterson, who led off by getting hit by a pitch.
But the Green Devils, coming off an impressive 7-2 win over Seminole on Friday, got to Grigsby in the fifth. John Miller led off by reaching on an error by DeTrano at second base.
One out later, Ricardo Rivera was hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second. Ian Smith then knocked in two runs with a solid single. Smith scored with two out when leftfielder Garret Nevitt dropped a fly ball from Aaron Houghton.
Grigsby got out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth when he induced two fly balls to end the inning. Pinellas Park then broke it open in the bottom of the fifth.
With runners at first and second, DeTrano laced a double down the rightfield line that scored pinch-runner Evan Graves and Reinoso to make it 4-3. Weber followed with a squeeze bunt that scored DeTrano for the final run.
“Jeff’s our guy who we count on to put the ball in play,” Russo said. “He made up for that error he made earlier. I changed up the lineup a little bit, and our guys relaxed and got some hits.”
St. Petersburg (4-8) went quietly in the final two innings. The last time these teams met, Graves threw a no-hitter.
“Our pitching has been outstanding,” Russo said. “Our team ERA is 0.97. That’s awfully good.”