PINELLAS PARK — In two previous meetings against St. Petersburg, Seminole took the lead against the Green Devils only to blow both games late. Wednesday night’s Class 7A, District 10 semifinal looked like it would follow the same script.
Seminole took an early two-run lead, then gave the lead back in the sixth inning. But this time, the Warhawks scored three sixth-inning runs and held on in the seventh to win 5-2.
The Warhawks (20-6) will play Countryside for the district championship.
“It was exactly what I envisioned,” Seminole coach Jeff Pincus said. “When we let those early opportunities slip away, I knew that would hurt. St. Petersburg is such a well-coached team. They play the game well.”
Seminole scored one run each in the first and second innings. Scott Withrow doubled in Corey Baptist in the first, and Alex McGathey got an RBI single in the second.
That was enough for Warhawks starter Nick Nolan through five innings. He held St. Petersburg hitless for the first three innings and only one hit through five. But the sixth inning was a different story.
After one out, Nolan walked David Phrathep and Sam Goodis. Leadoff hitter Connor Labrie then singled in Phrathep to make it 2-1. An Ian Smith single up the middle scored Goodis and tied the score.
Nolan got Jake Ferguson to strike out for the second out and Aaron Haughton to fly out to first to end the inning.
“When it was 2-2 and Jake up we were just thinking that we needed to get the two outs and then go win it,” Baptist said. “We didn’t want to go through this again. Luckily we did it.”
Tylor Craft led off the sixth with a fly out to center. But Cody Miller bunted, and a throwing error to first by pitcher Adrian Comas allowed Miller to go to second. Stephen Nobles then hit a grounder to Labrie at short, but he was unable to field it and Miller came around from second to make it 3-2.
With the bases loaded, Baptist greeted reliever David Sockol with a single to right-center that scored two runs to end the game.
“My first two swings I got a little big because I was trying to hit a grand slam,” Baptist said. “I just shortened up with two strikes and tried to get a run in.”
Staked to a three-run lead, Nolan got two outs. But he then loaded the bases thanks to a hit batter and a walk. Craft relieved and struck out Labrie looking to end the game.
“My arm felt fine,” Nolan said. “I was just choking the ball. It was better that Tylor came in. I love finishing games, but it was better for the team that Tylor was in there.”
In the other semifinal, Countryside had only three hits off starter Brandon Grigsby but it was enough to beat Pinellas Park 2-0.
Christian Townsend had a two-run single in the fifth inning that proved to be the difference. Cougars starter Jake Mielock scattered six hits and got out of a first-inning bases-loaded jam to earn the win.
6A-12: Rebels hang on
LARGO — In the seventh inning, Dixie Hollins watched in disbelief as Largo scored two runs off errors to send Wednesday’s Class 6A, District 12 semifinal into extra innings.
So it was gratifying for the Rebels to find the wherewithal to bounce back, scoring off an error in the eighth inning and holding on in a 5-4 victory.
Dixie Hollins (10-13) advances to Friday’s championship game against Osceola.
“It was frustrating to let a lead slip away like that,” Rebels coach Joshua Jackson said. “But a win is a win. We’ll definitely take it.”
Through five innings, Rebels starter John Hollis (11 strikeouts) was mowing down batters with ease. And the offense did just enough with Nick Stanney hitting a two-run triple and Devin Reyes smacking a home run to help Dixie Hollins build a 4-0 lead.
Then it started to slip away.
It started in the sixth inning when the Packers’ Tyler Short hit a two-run homer. In the seventh, Largo took advantage of two errors to score twice and tie.
But it didn’t take long for the Rebels to regain the lead. Reyes started things off by reaching on an error. He advanced to third on a bunt single by Austin Busch and scored off an error for the winning run. It was Reyes’ third run of the game.
“Ever since we came back from spring break, Devin was been crushing the ball,” Jackson said. “He’s been our best hitter and he certainly helped us get through this one.”
Still, Dixie Hollins had to sweat it out. In the bottom of the eighth, Largo loaded the bases with two outs. The final out came when a runner was thrown out trying to advance to third.
Osceola 4, Lakewood Ranch 0: The Warriors scored four runs in the fifth, which is all starter Keith Weisenberg needed. Weisenberg scattered six hits, all singles, and struck out 11 to earn the win. The win not only extended the Warriors’ region playoff streak to five straight seasons, but it was coach Stefan Futch’s 250th of his career.
“What a good game to get it,” said Futch, who coached 12 seasons at St. Petersburg prior to joining Osceola three years ago.
In the fifth, Jaret Helinger doubled in Abby Jimenez and Austin Brockway. Justin Kremer then singled in Helinger and Tyler Malinowksi singled in Kremer for the fourth run.
5A-12: Mammoth comeback keeps Lakewood alive
ST. PETERSBURG — After his team rallied to an improbable victory Wednesday and clinched their first region playoff berth since 2000, Lakewood coach Jayce Ganchou was at a loss for words.
So he ended up saying something unsuitable for a family newspaper, but quite frankly, perfectly acceptable for the moment.
Loosely translated: “Are you kidding me?”
His Spartans, down to their last three outs and trailing 6-2 entering the seventh inning, rallied to beat Boca Ciega 8-6 to advance to Friday’s Class 5A, District 12 championship.
It all started with a 6-foot infield single by Laterian Latimer, followed by a groundout that could have been a double play if the Spartans centerfielder hadn’t been on the move.
Cornelius Copeland tripled in a run and scored on Donovan Pink’s single.
Mike Ferrandiz singled and after the second out, came around to score on Jamie Kane’s single to tie the game.
The lead run scored on one of two costly Pirate errors, and Latimer got another chance and blooped a double into rightfield to drive in Kane and cap the scoring.
“We thought we could do it, we really did,” said Latimer, whose team is now 14-11. “First team to drop the tempo loses the game. I learned that in football. It goes for every sport.”
Boca Ciega (11-15) had set the tempo. After mustering only three hits in the first four innings and trailing 2-1, the Pirates opened the fifth with eight hits in a row, including a double by Mark Miklos that drove in three and made it 4-2.
The onslaught, which also included RBI hits from Tanner Watkins and Josh Schaeffer, chased Copeland, Lakewood’s ace.
It was the most earned runs he has given up this season.
“When my coach told me I was done,” Copeland said, “I was thinking, that was the last time I was going to pitch in a high school game.”
Instead, he will likely start Lakewood’s first region playoff game in 13 years Tuesday, regardless of what happens Friday against Dunedin.
Dunedin 16, Bradenton Bayshore 4: Jack Hamrick pitched a complete-game six-hitter and Dunedin got 12 hits in a 16-4 defeat of Bradenton Bayshore. The Falcons scored a run in the first, four each in the second and third innings and seven in the fourth. Austin Sweat was 3-for-3 with six RBIs. Alex Hart and Eric Sexton were both 2-for-3 and T.J. Alman had four runs scored for Dunedin.
“We got to them early and then they got those four runs in the fifth inning,” coach Tom Hilbert said. “Jack pitched well and maybe got a little tired there in the end.”
3A-9: Paul does it all for CCC
It’s almost like David Paul knew exactly how many runs he needed to win his Class 3A, District 9 semifinal.
So in the first inning, the Clearwater Central Catholic ace tripled in teammates Derek Gibree and Brenden Overton, which was more than enough as he shut down Northside Christian in a 5-1 victory at St. Petersburg Catholic.
Matt Gladfelter was the only Mustang to reach third against Paul, tripling in the second inning and scoring on a flyball. Paul, who hasn’t lost a decision this year, responded by retiring the next 11 batters on the way to a complete game three-hitter with six strikeouts.
His offense provided him some insurance. Andrew Murphy singled, stole second and scored on Nico Dohse’s sac fly in the second inning, and hits in the fourth inning by Murphy and Benito Mendizabal set up another run.
Paul added an RBI single in the fifth to be sure, scoring Gibree.
CCC (22-4) will meet Calvary Christian (21-6) in Friday’s final. Calvary beat Indian Rocks Christian 5-0 behind the pitching of Nate Reed (7-3) and a three-run homer by Grant McDaniel.
McDaniel’s blast, his first of the season, came in the sixth inning as the Warriors were holding a slim 2-0 lead.
Staff writers Bob Putnam, John C. Cotey and Rodney Page contributed to this report.