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Baseball: Thursday’s region quarterfinals breakdown (5A-3A)



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.

Class 5A

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.  

Team leaders

CategoryIsland CoastNortheast
Batting average Aiden Cecil .344Nate Cannizzaro .418
RBIsJake Mueller, Kevin Rodriguez 18Amai Rivera-Martinez 30
Home runsJake Mueller 3Ryan Willis 5
ERAKevin Rodriguez 0.98Sean Melanson 1.67
StrikeoutsKevin Rodriguez 92Sean 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. 

Team leaders

CategoryOsceolaFort Myers
Batting averageMichael Doyle .397Carson Esposito .318
RBIsCJ Thornton 15Keaton Kenworthy 29
Home runs Eddie Daraphet 2Keaton Kenworthy, Jake D’Altrui 3
ERABryce Roth 0.71Carter Lane 0.69
StrikeoutsCorey Braun 38Zachary 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. 

Team leaders

CategoryLand O’ LakesLake Minneola
Batting averageTim Dunn .423Hunter French .478
RBIsDaniel Busot 20Hunter French 19
Home runsDaniel Busot 2JoJo Smiley 2
ERAJustin Pimentel 0.86Bradley O’Kane 1.27
StrikeoutsBrian Holiday 115Parker 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. 

Team leaders

CategoryOcala VanguardRiver Ridge
Batting averageN/AGunnar Alexander .327
RBIsN/AGunnar Alexander 17
Home runsN/AAnthony Leon 1
ERAN/AJoseph Leon 1.75
StrikeoutsN/ATrent 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.

Team leaders

Batting averageKendal Spencer .418Bradke Lohry .400
RBIsJosh Blake 25Jake Kulikowski 26
Home runsKendal Spencer 1Jake Kulikowski 5
ERAMarcos Herrand 1.68Kris Sosnowski 0.18
StrikeoutsMarcos Herrand 93Dominic 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. 

Team leaders

Batting averageAlejandro Montada .392Gage Allen .414
RBIs Javier James 16Pierce Glading 22
Home runs Jaiden Duarte 4Pierce Glading 3
ERACarson Moore 1.94Zack Dwyer 2.01
StrikeoutsJavier James, Matthew Johnson 35Daniel Hartley 76

Class 4A

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. 

Team leaders

CategoryCypress CreekDunedin
Batting averageEthan Petry .371Marcus Brodil .408
RBIsEthan Petry 26Trey Beard 14
Home runsEthan Petry, Peyton Petry 3Dylan Oester 2
ERAZach Buelk 0.51Trey Beard 1.97
StrikeoutsPeyton Petry 83Trey 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.  

Team leaders

CategoryTarpon SpringsWesley Chapel
Batting averageDavid Stokely .510Josh Wollerman .382
RBIs Max Oliveira 16Josh Wollerman 24
Home runsDavid Stokely, Max Oliveira 1Austin Coultas, Dylan Chana, Zachary Bice 1
ERAPeyton Ballantyne 1.83Zachary Showalter 0.31
StrikeoutsDavid Stokely 54Ethan 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.  

Team leaders

CategorySatelliteNature Coast
Batting averageEthan Wailes .406Justin Montanez .418
RBIs Ethan Wailes 14Zeth Rodriguez 24
Home runsJason Alati, Gunnar Nusi 1Zeth Rodriguez 6
ERABrayden Bell 0.82Brian Erb 1.22
StrikeoutsBrayden Bell 21Anthony 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. 

Class 3A

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.  

Team leaders

CategoryCalvary ChristianLakeland Christian
Batting averageTyler Dietz .391Ty Evans .493
RBIsLanden Maroudis 26Ty Evans 34
Home runsDillon Costello, Landen Maroudis, Charles Stevens 2Reese Collins 4
ERADearl Edens 0.00Nathan Shane 0.69
StrikeoutsJack Cebert 78Sawyer 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. 

Team leaders

CategoryTampa PrepBerkeley Prep
Batting averageTy Jones .321Johnathan Bruno .423
RBIs Ty Jones 9Andrew DiMisa, Cade Kurland 30
Home runsTy Jones, Jose Pena 2James Hankerson, Cade Kurland 5
ERAAlex Lacy 0.51Will Parkinson 1.29
StrikeoutsJose Pena 58Will Parkinson 45


Bloomingdale’s Kris Wilken named 6A coach of the year



Bloomingdale’s Kris Wilken, who guided the school’s baseball program to its first state title, was named the Class 6A coach of the year by the Florida Dairy Farmers. 

Wilken, who has coached the Bulls for 14 seasons, has a 221-123 overall record. He helped Bloomingdale reach the state semifinals in 2014. 

This season, everything came together at the right time. The Bulls found the wherewithal to survive a series of close, low-scoring games en route to a state title. Three of Bloomingdale’s five postseason games were decided by a run. 

The winners in each classification were selected through voting from a statewide panel of baseball coaches and media representatives. They are now eligible to be named the overall winner in the state, which will go through another round of voting and likely be announced next week. 

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Baseball: Durant’s Sean Hermann named 7A state player of the year



Sean Hermann, who led Durant to the state semifinals thanks to his performance on the mound this season, was named the Class 7A player of the year by the Florida Dairy Farmers. 

The USF signee was efficient, going 9-0 with a .036 ERA and recording 135 strikeouts while walking just 13 batters in 78 innings. Those numbers were a big reason the Cougars reached the state semifinals for the first time since 2016. 

In fact, Hermann threw at least four innings in every postseason game for Durant. In the 7A state semifinals, he threw 7 ⅓ scoreless innings, allowing four hits and striking out nine. 

The winners in each classification were selected through voting from a statewide panel of baseball coaches and media representatives. They are now eligible to be named the overall winner in the state, which will go through another round of voting and likely be announced next week. 

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Gulf Coast Eight baseball selections announced



Here is the Gulf Coast Eight baseball team. The players are from two counties, Hernando and Citrus. The selections were made by the coaches.

Player of the year: P/OF Riley Fisher, Sr., Hernando

Coach of the year: Brandon DeRespiris, Nature Coast

First team

P Justin Gay, Sr., Central

P Cris Walley, So., Citrus

C Dylan Schatzel, Sr., Hernando

IF Luke Malmberg, Jr., Lecanto

IF Dylan DuPhily, Sr., Hernando

IF Jaxen Gates, So., Nature Coast

IF Zeth Rodriguez, Sr., Nature Coast

OF Quinn Lenamon, So., Springstead

OF Levi Haines, Sr., Weeki Wachee

OF Justin Montanez, Sr., Nature Coast

UTIL Nick Talpa, Sr., Hernando

UTIL Collin Nelson, Sr., Nature Coast

Honorable mention

Central: Brandon Leininger, Taylor Mulock; Citrus: Blake Clark, Tim Flippen; Crystal River: Riley Houle, Jeff Jones; Hernando: Jordan Laing, Anthony Talpa; Lecanto: Evan Silverthorn, Nick Sloane; Nature Coast: Brian Erb, Tyler Renew; Springstead: Owen Andress, Marcus Opolski-Roe; Weeki Wachee: Blake Byrne, Anthony Scarangella. 

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