A look at Wednesday night’s region baseball quarterfinals

Twenty-five Tampa Bay teams start their state quest in classes 9A through 5A.
Newsome's Zachary Devito fires a pitch during a 5-4 victory over Alonso in the Saladino Tournament quarterfinals. (SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times)
Newsome's Zachary Devito fires a pitch during a 5-4 victory over Alonso in the Saladino Tournament quarterfinals. (SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times)
Published May 14

Games at 7 p.m. unless noted.

Class 9A

Treasure Coast (16-7) at Newsome (17-9)

The Wolves won the Class 9A, District 8 championship 4-0 over Alonso. Zachary Devito threw a complete-game shutout and also threw two innings in the 3-2 semifinal win over Palm Harbor University. Cole Stallings started that game and threw five strong innings. Pitching is going to be key again for a team that scores about four runs per game. Seniors Zachary Benson (.359, five doubles) and Tyler McKenna (.329, two home runs) lead the offense. Treasure Coast’s Ray Ortiz is hitting .411 with six doubles.

Alonso (15-10) at Vero Beach (21-3)

This may be a tough assignment for the Ravens. On the bright side, they won six straight before running into good pitching against Newsome. Of the 10 losses, five have been by one run. Junior Sam Drumheller has been the ace all season. He is 6-0 with a 1.36 ERA in 46 1/3 innings pitched. The offense has been a bit inconsistent, as the shutout to Newsome proves. But Renzo Gonzalez (.373, five home runs) has been a dangerous hitter. The Ravens are going to need an all-around night to pull off the road win.

Class 8A

Seminole's Brian Hollingsworth steals third base while avoiding the tag by East Lake's Opie Parker during the Class 8A-7 district title game. (OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times)
Seminole's Brian Hollingsworth steals third base while avoiding the tag by East Lake's Opie Parker during the Class 8A-7 district title game. (OCTAVIO JONES | Times)

Sarasota (20-8) at Seminole (12-14)

Go figure the Warhawks. They traveled to East Lake with a young team and thin pitching and beat the Eagles 6-1 to win the district championship. Now comes a home game against perennial state power Sarasota. The Sailors may not be the state-caliber team they usually are, but they are still very good. Senior Seth Parker has pitched a bulk of the innings and will likely get the start. The offense came through in the district tournament and that will have to continue. Sarasota has played a difficult schedule and will not be intimidated by playing on the road.

[ RELATED: Fresh arm lifts Seminole to district title ]

East Lake (23-3) at Lakewood Ranch (23-4)

The Eagles need to turn things around quickly. They have lost three of their past six and now comes one of the more difficult road games in any class. Ryan Slater has been a true ace this season with a 0.94 ERA in 59 innings pitched. He’ll need one more good game to keep the playoff run alive. The Eagles have hit the ball all season, but went into a funk against Seminole. Colin Apgar (7-0, 1.21) and Matt Gelorme (7-1, 0.95) have been Lakewood Ranch’s top pitchers.

Bloomingdale (17-8) at Plant (16-9)

The Panthers got two outstanding pitching performances in two district tournament games last week to earn a home regional. It’s a really good time to get good pitching. Mathew Coker threw all but the final out in a 1-0 upset win over Sickles in the semifinal. Leo Oshinski threw a complete game in a 4-1 win over Steinbrenner in the final. Bloomingdale is a very good runnerup. It lost in the final to Plant City, which may be one of the best teams in the area. Senior Myles Caba threw a shutout against Riverview in the semifinal to earn a region spot. He should get the start against the Panthers. Bloomingdale beat Plant 6-2 in the regular season. Caba threw a two-hitter.

[ RELATED: Stellar pitching, defense pace Plant to district title ]

Steinbrenner (16-8) at Plant City (25-2)

An historic season continues for the Raiders. They won their first district championship in 59 years last week. But they don’t want it to end now. Left-hander Parker Messick is a true ace. He has 93 strikeouts in 65 innings. Cole Cothren leads a good offense with a .459 average. Steinbrenner does not exactly take momentum into regionals. The Warriors have lost four straight and haven’t scored a run in 16 innings. Senior Bryce Leonhardt and junior Brayden Heidel have combined to pitch more than 94 innings this season.

[ RELATED: Plant City's patience never wears thin ]

Lake Minneoloa (18-9) at Strawberry Crest (15-10)

The Chargers couldn’t have had a better district tournament. They won both games 8-0 and gave up five hits total. Alex Marshall threw a complete game against Freedom in the semifinals, and Kade Manderscheid and Eli Garner combined on a shutout against Wiregrass Ranch. If that kind of pitching continues, this could be a long run in the playoffs. Lake Minneola only lost by a run in the district final. Zach Arnold has some power with four home runs and a .391 average. The Hawks have a 4.47 team ERA, so they give up some runs.

[ RELATED: Committee of aces boosts Strawberry Crest ]

Wiregrass Ranch (14-10) at Ocoee (15-11)

The Knights are a bit of a surprise winner of the Class 8A, District 3 tournament. They were the three seed and were 3-4 against district opponents in the regular season. This is a game the Bulls can win. They beat a very good Wharton team in the district semifinals before running into Strawberry Crest. Robert Boser and Nate Crissey combined on the mound to beat Wharton. The Bulls don’t hit extremely well, but pitching and defense have been enough to get them this far.

Class 7A

Mitchell's Adam Bingham, left, and Kyle Murphy, right, during a recent practice. (DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times)
Mitchell's Adam Bingham, left, and Kyle Murphy, right, during a recent practice. (DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times)

Mitchell (25-1) at Braden River (15-12)

This is a rematch of last year’s region quarterfinal, which Mitchell won 13-3. The Pirates may be a bit better this season, but it is still going to take a big effort to knock off the Mustangs. Mitchell will be able to throw Jackson Miller, who is 9-0 with a 0.50 ERA. The Osceola loss in the district final wasn’t as bad as it looks. The Mustangs left seven runners on base in the final three innings. They should be able to shake that off and get back to the semifinals. Braden River got a good pitching performance from Calvin Hedgepeth against Lennard and he could throw on Wednesday. Senior Zac Graham (.439, seven doubles) has been a tough out.

[ RELATED: Lennard falls just short of first title as Braden River takes district ]

Lennard (18-6) at Osceola (17-10)

This has the possibility of being one of the better region quarterfinals in the area. The Warriors tend to be competitive in every game. And the same can be said for the Longhorns. Osceola came back from three runs down to hand Mitchell its first loss this season in the district final. Corey Braun has been Osceola’s best arm with a 7-2 record and a 1.47 ERA. Payne Curley and his younger brother Miles Curley are both hitting close to .400 and lead the offense. Lennard narrowly lost to Braden River 1-0 in the district final. The Longhorns can hit (.312 team average) and pitch (2.01 team ERA). These teams are pretty similar.

[ RELATED: Osceola hands Mitchell first loss ]

Winter Haven (16-10) at Leto (20-6)

The Falcons got to the state tournament last season, but it will take a big effort to get there again. Winter Haven is usually pretty good, although the team is a bit down this season, losing in the district final 16-5 to South Lake. Leto is very well-rounded. The Falcons have two good arms in Christian Suarez and Franklyn Hernandez. Javy Hernandez hits .361 with eight doubles. Damien Breton leads the Falcons with 17 RBIs. Playing at home is a big bonus.

[ RELATED: Leto sticks to plan; Gaither ekes out win in district semis ]

Gaither (12-12) at South Lake (18-8)

The Eagles scored 28 runs in their two district tournament wins, so slowing down the bats will be Gaither’s top priority. The Cowboys don’t really have a shutdown pitcher, although Austin Grause and Roy Peguero have been above average. The Cowboys have hit well enough but are probably going to need five or more runs to get past South Lake and into the second round.

Class 6A

Springstead pitcher Jack Jasiak (49) goes up against Hernando in a late-April matchup. (ALLIE GOULDING | Times)
Springstead pitcher Jack Jasiak (49) goes up against Hernando in a late-April matchup. (ALLIE GOULDING | Times)

North Marion (16-11) at Springstead (22-4)

The Eagles stumbled a bit at the end of the regular season, but they did not mess around in the district tournament. They lost in the first round of regionals last season, so they should be motivated. Jiovel Lantigua has provided pop in the middle of the lineup with 13 home runs. Expect North Marion to pitch to him carefully. Jack Jasiak (.382) is another dangerous hitter who also has 108 strikeouts in 58 innings pitched. North Marion averages seven runs per game, but it likely hasn’t seen a pitcher like Jasiak.

[ RELATED: Springstead reverses last year's district misfortune ]

Sebring (11-14) at Dunedin (19-8), Frank Tack Park, Clearwater

When the Falcons made their run to the 2017 state tournament, it started with a region quarterfinal win over Sebring. Here we go again. Dunedin had no trouble with Largo or Boca Ciega in the district tournament. Tyler Vogel has been steady on the mound all season. The lineup has been consistent throughout, with Lake Fisher, Ray Sass, Connor Russell, Jonathan Hubbard and Marcus Brodil all bringing big bats. Sebring lost to Lake Wales 2-1 in eight innings in the district final. Lake Wales is a 20-win team, so Sebring could be a worthy opponent.

Boca Ciega (7-18) at Lake Wales (20-6), 5

This looks like a difficult one for the Pirates. They got past Tarpon Springs to earn a region spot, then lost by 10 runs to Dunedin in the district final. They started the season by losing 10 of their first 11 games, so they have finished strong. Boca Ciega hits just over .200 as a team, which is going to have to change quickly. The Highlanders beat the Pirates in this round last year.

Jefferson (13-12) at Land O’ Lakes (19-5), 7:30

Game starts 30 minutes later than most others because the sun sets in the batters’ eyes. Learned that earlier in the season. Do not be fooled by Jefferson’s record. They played district champion Jesuit close all three times this season. And the Dragons are the defending state champion. There were a lot of holes to fill, but pitcher Mike Dominguez is still there and throwing as hard as ever. He has 88 strikeouts in 48 innings. If the Gators can’t catch up to him, it could be a long night. Ethan Frasca has had a good season at the plate, with a .397 average and three home runs. Brian Holiday and Nick Jennings have both been good pitchers, and both should be ready to go in this one.

[ RELATED: Land O'Lakes clinches third straight crown ]

Wesley Chapel (12-9) at Jesuit (22-5), 7:30

Jesuit finished the regular season against IMG Academy, Bartow and Venice, all highly competitive. That clearly got the Tigers ready for the postseason. The Jefferson district final was played over two days because of rain and the Tigers hung on for a 3-2 win. Jesuit has won eight straight district titles, so that’s not surprising. Bennett Lee has had a huge offensive season. He is hitting .442 with 12 doubles and seven triples. Camden Minacci has emerged as the ace with an 8-1 record and a 1.13 ERA. The Wildcats haven’t played as many games and don’t have as strong of a resume. But they did beat River Ridge in the semifinals to get here. Ethan Jones pitched well in that game. Austin Coultas is the top hitter with a .359 average and 10 doubles.

Class 5A

Lemon Bay (8-16) at Lakewood (15-11)

The Spartans struggle a bit outside of their district, but not in it. They won seven district games in the regular season and had no trouble at all in two tournament wins. This could be another lopsided result. Scott Germak has been a true No. 1 starter after throwing 57 2/3 innings and striking out 82. He also has a .345 average and nine doubles. Torry Jones is hitting .385 and Oliver Hahn is hitting .348. Lemon Bay lost five of six games prior to the district tournament, but did beat Fort Myers Dunbar 15-0 in the semifinal. This will be a tough assignment for the Manta Rays, especially at Lake Vista Park.

[ RELATED: Lakewood looks for second straight title ]

Port Orange Atlantic (11-9) at Central (6-21)

Yes, Central’s record is correct. The Bears won three games during the regular season, and two of those were against Gulf, a one-win team. Then they won three straight games in the district tournament. It helped that top-seeded Hernando lost to Fivay, but Central still had to knock off second seed Cypress Creek in the second round. Central gave up 185 runs in 24 regular-season games and only six in three district tournament games. It may still be tough sledding in this one. Atlantic lost 1-0 to Orlando Bishop Moore in its district final.

Fivay (9-16) at Orlando Bishop Moore (19-7)

The Falcons were the Class 5A, District 8 runners-up in what had to be the most unpredictable district tournament in the state. They upset top-seeded Hernando to get to the district final. Time to refocus in what looks like a hard road game. Senior Jarod Lyon has pitched the most innings by far (64 1/3). He is 5-4 but has a 2.28 ERA. Offense has been a bit inconsistent, but Jatniel Erazo-Hernandez has had a good season with a .373 average and six doubles. Bishop Moore has hit 18 home runs this season. There are nine players who have hit at least one home run. Keeping the offense in check is a must for the Falcons.

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