SEMINOLE ― Plant City pitcher Parker Messick hugged school principal Susan Sullivan prior to Wednesday’s Class 8A region final against Seminole and gave her a guarantee.
“I’m not losing this game,” he told her.
True to his word, Messick was overpowering against the Warhawks in a 3-0 win. He allowed one hit and struck out eight, including all three batters in the seventh inning.
Plant City (28-2) will play in its first state semifinal on Wednesday at 7 p.m. against Hollywood McArthur in Fort Myers. McArthur defeated Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas 2-0 on Wednesday.
“That kid was too good,” Seminole coach Rob Ciaravino said. “He’s just a really good pitcher.”
Messick, who is committed to Florida State, allowed only two base runners and none advanced past first base. Meanwhile, the Raiders offense did just enough to win.
In the second inning, Tyler Dowdy hit a solo home run to leftfield off Seminole starter Seth Parker with one out to make it 1-0. Parker then allowed a hit to Casey Mawhinney, but he was able to get out of the inning without any more damage.
“I was sitting curveball and he threw me a high fastball," Dowdy said. “So I just threw my hands at it. I looked up and I thought, 'Oh, gosh, that ball’s gone.’"
That proved to be all Messick needed, but just for good measure the Raiders got runs in the third and seventh innings. In the third, Demario Williams led off with a single and stole second base. Leadoff hitter Cade Shissler then laced a double to right-centerfield that easily scored Williams.
In the seventh, Mawhinney led off with a single. Jared Wingo walked. With one out, Shissler came through again with another RBI single.
Messick improved to 11-1.
“I tell my team before every game, get me one run and I’ll win the game," Messick said. “That’s what I told them and that’s what they did."
It has been a week since Messick pitched. It will be another week before he pitches again in the state semifinal. Plant City coach Mike Fryrear said he hoped to see a better performance from Messick on Wednesday than in his last outing.
“He was a little sloppy in his last outing, and by sloppy I mean going to 3-2 counts," Fryrear said. “Tonight I told him he had to throw his off speed in the third inning. He was lights out after that."
The loss ends an improbable run through the region tournament for Seminole. The Warhawks (14-15) upset East Lake in the district final and hosted perennial state tournament team Sarasota in the region quarterfinal. That ended up being a 2-1, 12-inning win. Then came another extra-inning win over East Lake.
The Warhawks got to the region final for the first time since 2004.
“We’re proud of these guys," Ciaravino said. “Nobody expected us to get past the first round of districts."
At Hammond Stadium, Fort Myers
Class 8A: Strawberry Crest vs. TBD, 4 p.m. May 29
Class 8A: Plant City vs. McArthur, 7 p.m. May 29
Class 7A: Doral Academy vs. Leto, 7 p.m. May 31
Class 6A: Jesuit vs. Miami Springs, 1 p.m. May 31
Class 4A: Calvary Christian vs. Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian, 7 p.m. May 24