Here is the capsule for tonight’s Class 5A region final involving area baseball teams. The winner moves on to Thursday’s state semifinals.
Dixie Hollins (21-6-1) at Jesuit (21-8), 7
In 1991, Rick Braisted hit a walk-off homer in the eighth inning to lead Dixie Hollins past Clearwater in the Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship game.
It was the first time Hollins won a conference title.
It took 31 years to win another. That one also was decided with some last minute panache with Jacob Green driving in the winning run in the eighth inning to beat Dunedin 1-0.
The dramatics did not end there.
The Royals won their first district title since 1996 by beating Seminole 5-4 in 10 innings. They knocked off defending state semifinalist Jefferson (3-2) in the region quarterfinals on a walk-off homer from Ryland Bozenhard in the eighth inning. And rallied to get River Ridge 4-3 in the region semifinals.
Hollins enters the region final on a 10-game win streak. Four of the Royals’ last five victories were decided by a run, including three in extra innings.
Now comes the hard part.
Hollins travels to face perennial powerhouse Jesuit, which won its 10th straight district title two weeks ago. In the postseason, the Tigers have been dominant, beating Hillsborough and Seminole by a combined 24-2.
Jesuit is capable of putting up big numbers on the scoreboard that can turn close games into blowouts. Take the region semifinals. The Warhawks went up 2-0 in the top of the first inning. By the end of the second, they were down 10-2.
To win, the Royals have to stick to their blueprint of keeping the score low and remaining within striking distance, particularly late in the game.
|Batting average||Joshua Castellani, .423||Wes Mendes, .422|
|Home runs||Four tied with two.||Three tied with four.|
|RBIs||Colin Lemons, 27||AJ Nessler, 24|
|ERA||Ryland Bozenhard, 1.91||Wes Mendes, 1.33|
|Strikeouts||Ryland Bozenhard, 72||Jamie Arnold, 81|