East Bay runs record to 13-6 with two rallies
South Shore baseball eyes postseason
By STEVE JACKSON
South Shore high school baseball is in its stretch run. The regular season closes after next week’s action. A “second season” in various divisions presents opportunities for redemption.
Entering this week, 13-6 East Bay is the lone South Shore diamond squad guaranteed to finish above .500 before launching postseason action in 6A-D10. Coach Joshua Smith’s Riverview Sharks, presently 10-9, hope to add a few more wins and make a deep run in 7A-D8. Sumner has a 3-10 regular season record. The Stingrays have a pair of crucial regular season match-ups with 5A-D8 rivals Brandon and King this week in their bid to improve the Stingrays 3-2 division mark. Lennard is 0-5 in 7A-D8, with little chance of moving up in the division unless the Longhorns can come up with a couple of division wins before concluding regular play April 22. That leaves Spoto hobbled with a 1-14 overall record. At 0-3 in 5A-D8, the Spartans appear destined to finish last in their division unless they can come up with a miraculous finish over their final five games, concluding with an April 22 confrontation with Lennard at home.
Riverview, after winning five in row, was carved up 12-3 near Plant City last Thursday. The Sharks ran into a baseball buzz saw called Durant. The 14-4 Cougars pounded Riverview’s best three pitchers for 16 hits, jumping out to an 11-1 lead to continue unbeaten, 9-0, at home. Riverview’s Nathan Lalond managed a 2-for-3 evening at the plate with all three Sharks’ RBIs. Sharks teammate John Smith had a hit in three trips and scored a run.
The Sharks rebounded with a 9-4 win to start another winning skein over Armwood last Saturday. A pair of soph hurlers held Armwood to three hits. Meanwhile, soph Farah Castillo led Riverview with the bat. Castillo drove in six runs on a three-for-four performance at the dish. Shark teammates Lukus Chunn and Caden Santucci also swung hot bats, both registering 2-for-3. Santucci drove in three and scored three runs.
Riverview hosted Lennard on Tuesday for Parents’ Appreciation Night. Then the Sharks make two road trips to Tampa. On Thursday, they tangle with the Sickles Gryphons and next Monday with the 9-11 Plant Panthers.
Coach Victor Martinez’ Lennard Longhorns broke a five-game losing streak by going extra innings to take down the Robinson Knights, 4-3, at home last Friday. Freshman Zack Bird and soph Carter Payne held the visiting Knights bats at bay while just enough offense was generated by Sebastian Muñoz, Tyler Ewell, Jaylin Tose, Matthew Counts and Andrew Gingrich to lift the ’Horns over Robinson in eight innings. In last week’s 9-2 loss at home against Newsome, the Wolves raked four Lennard pitchers. Newsome’s Evan Wainman went yard for his division-leading fourth home run. The previous Monday, Newsome blasted 14 hits in a 10-0 rout of Lennard at Lithia.
After the short trip to Riverview April 13, the Longhorns are at home and then travel to Tampa for late-week games. First up on Friday are the 1-11 Chamberlain Chiefs. A 1 p.m. match-up at 12-7 Leto the next day ends the week. Then comes a cow showdown April 20 as the Bloomington Bulls, 14-5, come to the corral. Lennard ends the regular season April 21 at Blake and April 22 at Spoto, a pair of usual pushovers.
East Bay got back on the winning track as the Indians took two last week. Now, Coach Cody Crouse’s squad is chasing Bloomingdale, which leads 6A-D10 at 2-0. The Indians traveled to Robinson for an early-week game. Then a game with the tough Newsome Wolves is on the agenda at East Bay April 15. The Indians then close the regular season next week at Durant April 20 and at Plant April 22.
East Bay’s pitching tandem of junior Tanner Elizando and soph Andrew Pierce combined to take the measure of Brandon, 4-3, in early-week action. Tate Gran, Jeremy Galen, Deshaun Manuel, Javy Lopez and Carlos Campos provided enough offense in the come-from-behind win. Another pair of Indian pitchers, senior Stephen Heslin and junior Manny Dooley, proved effective enough on the mound on Thursday in another come-from-behind victory. East Bay rallied late for six runs to take care of the Hillsborough Terriers, 6-3, at home. Riley Linne and Hans Walker joined the five hot batsmen from the Brandon victory to generate two late rallies to grab the Hillsborough win, aided by five Terrier errors.
Sumner’s 5A-D8 3-2 win-loss record keeps the Stingrays within shouting distance of first place Brandon, 5-1 in division and 8-11 overall. Needing a win to inch closer to the division leaders, the Stingrays, under Coach Kennedy Duran, hosted Brandon in early-week action Monday. A visit to King on April 15 provides another shot at improving Sumner’s division mark. The Rays complete their rookie regular season next week with games at Middledton April 20 and at home with Leto April 22.
Sumner is searching this week for a winning combination after dropping its last five games. Last week the senior-less squad lost all three games in nail-biting fashion. A comeback bid fell short Saturday at Jefferson, 5-4. Same story on April 8 as Sumner visited winless Blake and dropped a 7-5 decision. In early-week action, the Stingrays lost 7-4 against Robinson, throwing two of its best pitchers, Theo Nudd and Jayden Brown.
Although not wearing out the cover on the ball, Sumner’s leaders on offense have been Gabriel Mangual, Alex Collura, Garrett Morgan, Joe Cabrales and Jayden Brown.
Spoto has two games this week and three games next week in an uphill bid to improve its 1-14 overall record and 0-3 5A-D8 mark. King came to the Spartans diamond Monday in early-week action. Then Spoto visits Jefferson Thursday. The Spartans close out the regular season at Brandon next Monday before hosting two home games. Armwood visits Spoto April 21. Lennard closes Spoto’s regular season at Ruskin April 22.
Last week Spoto experienced challenges at the plate and on the mound. Tampa Bay Tech eked out a 4-0 win in early-week play. On Thursday at home, it was a 6-0 loss to Middleton. Then the roof caved in at Robinson Saturday when the Spartans suffered a 20-0 loss.
In a struggling season, the Spartans have been led by a pair of freshmen. Peyton Nise is batting a team-leading .244. Nise has also registered the Spartan’s only mound victory. Another Spoto frosh, Cullen Cairns, has shown flashes of optimism as a pitcher for next year, posting a respectable 4.62 earnedrunaverage