Baseball: Pinellas County buzz — April 15, 2024

Stay updated with the latest Pinellas County baseball buzz—your go-to source for weekly reviews, alumni updates, schedules, and more.

Week in review

It was quite a week with upsets, lengthy streaks and impressive turnarounds. 

Northside Christian gets national attention

The Mustangs already were recognized as one of the top teams in 2A. After all, they are No. 2 in their region in the Florida High School Athletic Association’s power rankings and No. 5 in the class according to MaxPreps. 

Last week, Northside Christian gained even more notoriety – and a likely boost in both rankings – after beating national powerhouse IMG Academy 4-1. 

Andreas Alvarez, an Auburn commit, was stellar on the mound for the Mustangs. The senior went five innings, allowing one unearned run on two hits while striking out two. Merric Hunt came on in relief with two perfect innings that included two strikeouts. 

Danilo Soto led the offense with a double and drove in a pair of runs.

Northside Christian’s five losses this season have come against out-of-area teams. Pitching and defense have been key to the Mustangs’ success. They have allowed just three runs during their current five-game win streak. 

Calvary Christian still among the state’s best

After winning a state title last season, the Warriors bid farewell to 12 seniors, including a trio of starters that made up the bulk of their star-studded rotation. 

For most teams, the loss of so much talent would spell doom.

But not Calvary Christian. 

This season, the Warriors are 17-1, the lone loss coming by a run against Seminole last month. Currently, Calvary Christian is ranked No. 1 in the class, No. 5 overall in the state and No. 12 nationally by MaxPreps. 

Last week, the Warriors beat Bishop McLaughlin and Venice by a combined 11-2 to extend their win streak to 10.

Against the Hurricanes, Maximus Mayes went 3-for-3 with a homer, a double and three RBIs to lead Calvary Christian. Other offensive standouts included Carson Brady, who went 2-for-2 with four RBIs and Darin Collins, who was 2-for-2 with a pair of runs scored. 

That was more than enough support for the pitching staff, led by Grayson Gibson, who threw four scoreless, no-hit innings (one walk from being perfect) and finished with four strikeouts. 

The Warriors capped off the week by knocking off the Indians, who were ranked No. 1 in 7A and No. 4 overall in the state heading into the week. 

Brady, Collins and Jace Kohler each had two hits and William Easton threw four scoreless innings, allowing one hit while striking out three in the 3-1 victory. 

Seth McClung leads Sponger resurgence

Tarpon Springs, led by former Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Seth McClung, is off to its best season in more than a decade. 

McClung, in his first season as coach, has guided the Spongers to a 13-7 record so far. It is the most wins for the program since 2012 when Tarpon Springs went 24-5 under former Clearwater Central Catholic standout and Florida Atlantic assistant Dickie Hart. 

The biggest win came last week when the Spongers beat Pinellas County powerhouse Seminole 3-2 in nine innings. Drew Dalena and Kyser Campbell each had two hits and Kole Hopkins dove in two runs to lead the offense. 

Hopkins went 6 ⅓ innings on the mound, too, allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits while striking out 10. Dalena came on in relief with 2 ⅔ scoreless, no-hit innings to go along with two strikeouts. 

To get an idea of how much Tarpon Springs has improved, consider it only needs one more win to equal the totals from the past two seasons combined.

Not surprisingly, the turnaround has been due in large part to a surplus of arms that McClung has helped develop into a deep and talented staff. 

All six of his top pitchers have an ERA of 3.13 or lower. That is a big reason the Spongers are currently ranked eighth in their region in the latest FHSAA power rankings in 4A, good enough to qualify for a playoff spot if the postseason started today. 

Dunedin displays dominance

The Falcons, who reached the region final last season, are capable of beating anyone. They handed Venice one of its two losses in the season opener and two weeks ago rallied in nine innings to get past Parkview (GA), which is currently ranked No. 12 nationally by MaxPreps. 

That win helped Dunedin snap a two-game losing streak. The momentum continued last week with wins over Countryside (4-2) and Indian Rocks Christian (7-4). 

Against the Cougars, Jeremiah Tokar drove in a pair of runs and Colton Beard threw a three-hitter, allowing two earned runs while striking out five. 

Jeff Mattos came up big against the Golden Eagles, going 3-for-3. Will Fallon had two RBIs and Greyson McNeill scored two runs. The pitching was led by Noah Cleveland, who lasted five innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits while striking out one. Jack Mason threw 1 ⅔ innings of relief, giving up two earned runs on a hit and finishing with two strikeouts. 

Largo solidifies playoff chances

The Packers, winners of three straight games, are currently ranked sixth in their region in the FHSAA’s 6A power rankings. 

Two more wins and Largo will equal its win total of 15 from 2022, the best season in Taylor Layner’s six years as coach.

After enduring a three-game losing streak last month, the Packers have bounced back in a big way with wins in six of their last seven games, including a victory over Palm Harbor University.

In its only game last week, Largo cruised to a 10-0 win over Boca Ciega. Brady Ahlers, Cole Sofge and Lucas Woodard each had two hits. Ahlers also was solid on the mound, giving up two hits and striking out two in four scoreless innings. Vincent Rancel followed with a nearly perfect inning in relief.  

Pinellas Park turns things around

After starting the season 5-8, the Patriots have rebounded big-time, winning six straight games to climb into playoff contention. 

That has helped Pinellas Park move into eighth place in their region in the FHSAA’s latest 6A power rankings, which would make the Patriots playoff-bound if the postseason started today. 

A big factor in the turnaround has been the offense, which has scored at least seven runs in five of the last six wins. 

Dane Merryweather went a combined 7-for-10 and Colby Redding had a combined five hits to lead the offense in wins over Hollins (7-6), Shorecrest (7-6) and Lakewood (12-4). 

East Lake’s Krukonis, Seminole’s Hoffman shine in pitcher’s duel

In a pivotal North Pinellas County game, East Lake’s Jackson Krukonis and Seminole’s Kendall Hoffman each went the distance in a top-tier pitching matchup. 

Krukonis had the better result, throwing a no-hit shutout (an error and two walks away from being perfect) and recording seven strikeouts in a 1-0 win. 

That extended Krukonis’ scoreless streak to 13 ⅔ innings. 

Hoffman was dominant, too. 

He gave up one unearned run on four hits while striking out 12. 

Hollins scores upset

The Royals have struggled this season because of their inability to win close games. Six of Hollins’ 11 losses have been one-run games, including heartbreakers to Seminole, Dunedin and Palm Harbor University. 

Last week, the Royals finally prevailed in a tight contest, outlasting Northeast 2-1 in 11 innings. It was just the second loss for the Vikings. 

Riley McDonald was the star. He went 3-for-4 with a homer and threw four scoreless, no-hit innings with eight strikeouts. 

Alumni update

Calvary’s Maroudis has successful Single-A debut

Landen Maroudis, the former Calvary Christian star who was drafted in the fourth round by the Blue Jays, had a stellar debut with the organization’s Single-A affiliate in Dunedin two weeks ago. 

Maroudis threw four perfect innings of relief with five strikeouts. 

Last year, he led the Warriors to the Class 3A state title. 

Up next 

Check out the county schedule for each day this week. 


Clearwater Central Catholic at St. Petersburg, 4

Lakeland Christian at Shorecrest, 7

Lakeside Christian at Keswick Christian, 4:30

Admiral Frragut at Gulf, 5

Northeast at Dunedin, 6:30

Bradenton Christian at Gibbs, 7

Calvary Christian at Pinellas Park, 7

Palm Harbor University at Countryside, 7


Sarasota Christian at Lakeside Christian, 3:30

Tampa Catholic at St. Petersburg 4

Clearwater Central Catholic at Keswick Christian, 4:30

St. Petersburg Catholic at Sarasota Cardinal Mooney, 4:30

Indian Rocks Christian at Tampa SLAM, 6

River Ridge at Largo, 7

Palm Harbor University at IMG Gray, 7

East Lake at Lakewood, 7

Boca Ciega at Pinellas Park, 7

Calvary Christian at Hollins, 7

Seminole at Countryside, 7

IMG White at Osceola, 7


Canterbury at Bell Creek Academy, 4

Northeast at St. Petersburg, 4

IMG Blue at St. Petersburg Catholic, 7

Clearwater at East Lake, 7

Boca Ciega at Bradenton Manatee, 7

Dunedin at Tarpon Springs, 7

Bradenton Southeast at Lakewood, 7


Gibbs at Lakeside Christian, 3:30

Calvary Christian at Palm Harbor University, 4

Pinellas Park at Keswick Christian, 4:30

Admiral Farragut at Gulf Coast HEAT, 6

Northside Christian at Clearwater Central Catholic, 7

Largo at Clearwater, 7

IMG Silver at Hollins, 7

Countryside at Indian Rocks Christian, 7

Seminole at Osceola, 7


Indian Rocks Christian at Boca Ciega, 4

Clearwater at Hernando Christian, 4:30

Seffner Christian at Shorecrest, 4:30

Hudson at Largo, 7

Jesuit at Calvary Christian, 7

Palm Harbor University at East Lake, 7

Northeast at Lakewood, 7

Sarasota Cardinal Mooney at St. Petersburg Catholic, 7


Northside Christian at The First Academy, 1