By STEVE JACKSON
The 42nd annual Saladino Baseball Tourney finally concluded last week. Jesuit High won the championship of the elite, top-flight Gold Division over the Sickles Gryphons. The Jesuit Tigers are 12-0 after winning the Saladino Tourney for the second year in a row. The Tigers are also the state 5A defending champs.
Now, with the closing of the three-division Saladino Tourney, it is back to the regular season for the five South Shore baseball teams, which all played four games in five days in the grueling Saladino Tourney.
Lennard salvaged one game in the Saladino Gold Division, a 9-7 win over Alonso behind the home run smashed by senior Alex Brazer. The Horns lost an opening game to Plant City in the Saladino and then dropped a pair of 2-1 nail biters to Tampa Catholic and Plant City.
The Riverview Sharks won four straight in the Saladino Tourney in the Silver Division. The Sharks utilized the hitting of senior Farah Castillo, Adrian Rolon and junior Anthony Jacquez to take victories over East Bay, Seffner Christian, Sumner and King.
Sumner was 3-1 in the Saladino Tourney Silver Division. The Stingrays ran their overall record to 7-3 with a final day victory. (See separate article on Sumner High every week in the ObserverNews.net print and digital version.) East Bay was 1-3 in the Saladino with a lone win 15-0 annihilation of hapless Freedom High on the last day of the Silver Division diamond play. The Indians opened this week at 2-6.
Spoto won its first three games in the Saladino Tourney in the Bronze Division at Brandon. The Spartans nipped Tampa Bay Tech to start the Saladino before demolishing Middleton and Brandon. On the Bronze Division final day, March 15, Spoto lost 7-3 to Armwood to put its overall record at 6-4.
Now, after the Saladino and spring break, the five South Shore diamond squads face the second half of the season, looking for strong runs in the state playoffs.
Lennard looks to get back on the winning track to improve its 6-4 record. The Horns hosted the 2-6 Palmetto High in Ruskin in an early week game. Then the tough 8-2 Durant Cougars host Lennard this Friday night at 7 p.m. Next week, 7-3 Bloomingdale challenges Lennard in Ruskin on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Riverview hopes to maintain its over .500 mark, travelling to 5-4 Steinbrenner Tuesday this week. The Sharks then welcome lackluster 1-8 Brandon to Riverview for a March 23, 7 p.m. clash. Next week Riverview has a rivalry game at Spoto on Tuesday.
Spoto also anticipates staying over .500 ball. The 6-4 Spartans travel to East Bay for a March 23 engagement at 7 p.m. with the rival Indians. Riverview comes up to play at Spoto Tuesday, March 28, at 7 p.m.
East Bay has a tough stretch of games to open the second half of the season. The 7-3 Jefferson Dragons were the foes early this week. Then Spoto comes to Big Bend Road for a Thursday evening game at 7 p.m. The 2-6 Indians play an unusual Saturday 10 a.m. game at the 6-4 Alonso Ravens diamond prior to a trip next Tuesday to play the 4-6 Plant City Raiders at 7 p.m.