The baseball playoffs start Thursday with region quarterfinal games in Classes 5A-3A. Admission is $7. Here is the schedule with outlooks for each area game, as well as team leaders for each matchup.
Island Coast (20-7) at Northeast (18-6), 7
The Vikings, winners of seven straight, are the 5A-9 district champs after beating Seminole 2-0 in the semifinals and Osceola 5-4 in the final. Sean Melanson threw a one-hit shutout with seven strikeouts against the Warhawks and Nate Cannizzaro hit a two-run homer against the Warriors. The Islanders, the 5A-10 runnerup, have won eight of their last 11.
|Batting average||Aiden Cecil .344||Nate Cannizzaro .418|
|RBIs||Jake Mueller, Kevin Rodriguez 18||Amai Rivera-Martinez 30|
|Home runs||Jake Mueller 3||Ryan Willis 5|
|ERA||Kevin Rodriguez 0.98||Sean Melanson 1.67|
|Strikeouts||Kevin Rodriguez 92||Sean Melanson 69|
Osceola (18-6) at Fort Myers (21-5), 7
The Warriors, the 5A-9 champion, have a tough task traveling to face the Green Wave, ranked No. 3 in the classification by MaxPreps. Osceola secured a playoff spot by beating Hollins 6-2 in the semifinals. Eddie Daraphet and Andrew Kopleman each went 2-for-3 with doubles against the Royals. Fort Myers enters the playoffs on a seven-game win streak.
|Batting average||Michael Doyle .397||Carson Esposito .318|
|RBIs||CJ Thornton 15||Keaton Kenworthy 29|
|Home runs||Eddie Daraphet 2||Keaton Kenworthy, Jake D’Altrui 3|
|ERA||Bryce Roth 0.71||Carter Lane 0.69|
|Strikeouts||Corey Braun 38||Zachary Root 51|
Land O’ Lakes (17-8) at Lake Minneola (17-7), 7
The Gators advanced by beating Fivay 10-0 in the 5A-6 semifinals. Brian Holiday threw a three-hit shutout with 12 strikeouts. The Hawks, the 5A-5 champions, have some momentum, winning seven of their last eight games.
|Category||Land O’ Lakes||Lake Minneola|
|Batting average||Tim Dunn .423||Hunter French .478|
|RBIs||Daniel Busot 20||Hunter French 19|
|Home runs||Daniel Busot 2||JoJo Smiley 2|
|ERA||Justin Pimentel 0.86||Bradley O’Kane 1.27|
|Strikeouts||Brian Holiday 115||Parker Fenton 85|
Ocala Vanguard (15-10) at River Ridge (14-7), 7
The Royal Knights’ offense got hot at the right time, averaging nearly nine runs a contest during their current five-game win streak. That helped River Ridge cruise to the 5A-6 district tournament with wins over Freedom (8-0) and Land O’ Lakes (10-1). Anthony Leon went 2-for-3 with a triple and three RBIs and Trent Hawks threw a four-hit shutout with six strikeouts against the Patriots. Hawks also went 3-for-3 with an RBI against the Gators. After starting the season 5-0, the Knights have struggled with consistently, going 10-10 the rest of the way.
|Category||Ocala Vanguard||River Ridge|
|Batting average||N/A||Gunnar Alexander .327|
|RBIs||N/A||Gunnar Alexander 17|
|Home runs||N/A||Anthony Leon 1|
|ERA||N/A||Joseph Leon 1.75|
|Strikeouts||N/A||Trent Hawks 48|
Brandon (14-13) at Jesuit (25-2), 7
The Eagles won seven of their last nine, including victories over Spoto (6-0) in the quarterfinals and King (4-2) in the semifinals of the 5A-8 district tournament to secure a playoff spot. Marcos Herrand allowed two earned runs and recorded nine strikeouts in the pivotal win against the Lions. Now comes the hard part for Brandon, a matchup with Jesuit, the No. 1 team in the classification and the No. 2 overall in the state by MaxPreps. The Tigers cruised in the 5A-7 tournament, beating Clearwater and Jefferson by a combined 19-4. Cole Russo was a combined 5-for-5 with a triple, a homer and six RBIs during the tournament.
|Batting average||Kendal Spencer .418||Bradke Lohry .400|
|RBIs||Josh Blake 25||Jake Kulikowski 26|
|Home runs||Kendal Spencer 1||Jake Kulikowski 5|
|ERA||Marcos Herrand 1.68||Kris Sosnowski 0.18|
|Strikeouts||Marcos Herrand 93||Dominic Castellano 75|
Jefferson (16-10) at Auburndale (15-10), 7
The Dragons were averaging eight runs in their three wins prior to falling to Jesuit in the 5A-7 district final. That offensive surge included a 9-1 victory over Blake in the quarterfinals and an 8-0 win over Hillsborough in the semifinals. Dylan DeGusipe went 2-for-4 with a double and four RBIs against the Yellowjackets. Matthew Johnson threw 6 ⅔ scoreless innings, allowing seven hits while striking out six against the Terriers. The Bloodhounds snapped a two-game losing streak with two wins to take the 5A-8 crown.
|Batting average||Alejandro Montada .392||Gage Allen .414|
|RBIs||Javier James 16||Pierce Glading 22|
|Home runs||Jaiden Duarte 4||Pierce Glading 3|
|ERA||Carson Moore 1.94||Zack Dwyer 2.01|
|Strikeouts||Javier James, Matthew Johnson 35||Daniel Hartley 76|
Cypress Creek (20-5) at Dunedin (15-11), 7
The Falcons, who endured a coaching change a week before the start of the 4A-9 district tournament, overcame that setback to win the title by beating Anclote 19-0 in the semifinals and Tarpon Springs 16-0 in the championship game. The 4A-10 runnerup Coyotes secured a playoff spot with a 6-2 win over Robinson in the semifinals. Ethan Petry had a double and drove in three runs and Peyton Petry recorded seven strikeouts on the mound.
|Batting average||Ethan Petry .371||Marcus Brodil .408|
|RBIs||Ethan Petry 26||Trey Beard 14|
|Home runs||Ethan Petry, Peyton Petry 3||Dylan Oester 2|
|ERA||Zach Buelk 0.51||Trey Beard 1.97|
|Strikeouts||Peyton Petry 83||Trey Beard 51|
Tarpon Springs (10-15) at Wesley Chapel (18-6), 7
The Wildcats, winners of four straight, took the 4A-10 district title by beating Zephyrhills 10-0 in the quarterfinals, Lakeland McKeel Academy 7-4 in the semifinals and rival Cypress Creek 2-1 in the championship game. Ethan Chana was stellar on the mound, allowing a combined three hits and one earned run while striking out seven in 8 ⅓ innings of work during the tournament. The Spongers finished as the 4A-9 runnerup, beating Gulf 11-0 in the quarterfinals and Lakewood 5-2 in the semifinals before falling to Dunedin in the title game. David Stokely allowed two earned runs and recorded 10 strikeouts in 6 ⅔ innings against the Spartans in the semifinals.
|Category||Tarpon Springs||Wesley Chapel|
|Batting average||David Stokely .510||Josh Wollerman .382|
|RBIs||Max Oliveira 16||Josh Wollerman 24|
|Home runs||David Stokely, Max Oliveira 1||Austin Coultas, Dylan Chana, Zachary Bice 1|
|ERA||Peyton Ballantyne 1.83||Zachary Showalter 0.31|
|Strikeouts||David Stokely 54||Ethan Chana 67|
Satellite Beach Satellite (17-6) at Nature Coast (21-4), 7
After starting the season 2-4, the Scorpions have won 15 of their last 17 games. In the 4A-8 district final, Satellite battled to the end before losing to Rockledge, 4-3. The Sharks, meanwhile, took the 4A-7 title by beating Central 4-2 in the semifinals and knocking off rival Hernando 9-8 in the championship game. Jaxen Gates went 2-for-3 with a double against the Bears.
|Batting average||Ethan Wailes .406||Justin Montanez .418|
|RBIs||Ethan Wailes 14||Zeth Rodriguez 24|
|Home runs||Jason Alati, Gunnar Nusi 1||Zeth Rodriguez 6|
|ERA||Brayden Bell 0.82||Brian Erb 1.22|
|Strikeouts||Brayden Bell 21||Anthony Anselmo 66|
Hernando (23-3) at Rockledge (23-2), 7
One of the best matchups in the region quarterfinals. Both teams are ranked among the top in the classification by MaxPreps (the Raiders are No. 5 and the Leopards are No. 6). Hernando advanced by beating South Sumter in the 4A-7 semifinals. Riley Fisher threw a complete-game shutout with eight strikeouts.
Calvary Christian (20-7) at Lakeland Christian (25-1), 7
The Warriors, ranked No. 8 in the classification by MaxPreps, have a difficult task facing the team ranked No. 1 in 3A, No. 5 overall in the state and No. 15 nationally. Still, Calvary Christian is capable of winning considering how tough the Warriors played in a 4-2 loss to the Vikings in the regular season. That game was tied until Lakeland Christian scored twice in the top of the seventh inning to go ahead for good. Calvary Christian advanced with a 20-5 victory over Brooks DeBartolo in the 3A-8 semifinals. Blake went 2-for-3 with a homer, five RBIs and three runs scored against the Phoenix.
|Category||Calvary Christian||Lakeland Christian|
|Batting average||Tyler Dietz .391||Ty Evans .493|
|RBIs||Landen Maroudis 26||Ty Evans 34|
|Home runs||Dillon Costello, Landen Maroudis, Charles Stevens 2||Reese Collins 4|
|ERA||Dearl Edens 0.00||Nathan Shane 0.69|
|Strikeouts||Jack Cebert 78||Sawyer Toney 68|
Tampa Prep (9-9) at Berkeley Prep (22-4), 7
The Buccaneers, ranked No. 5 in the classification and No. 19 overall in the state by MaxPreps, dominated the first two meetings against their rival, winning both by a combined 22-0. Berkeley Prep took home the 3A-8 district title with wins over Tampa Catholic (13-3) and Calvary Christian (7-3). Andrew DiMisa went 3-for-4 with two RBIs against the Crusaders and James Hankerson was 3-for-4 with a homer and two runs scored against the Warriors. The Terrapins advanced with a 6-0 win over Bell Creek Academy in the 3A-7 semifinals. Jose Pena pitched four scoreless innings and recorded seven strikeouts.
|Category||Tampa Prep||Berkeley Prep|
|Batting average||Ty Jones .321||Johnathan Bruno .423|
|RBIs||Ty Jones 9||Andrew DiMisa, Cade Kurland 30|
|Home runs||Ty Jones, Jose Pena 2||James Hankerson, Cade Kurland 5|
|ERA||Alex Lacy 0.51||Will Parkinson 1.29|
|Strikeouts||Jose Pena 58||Will Parkinson 45|