Baseball: Tampa Bay area report — May 7, 2024

The playoffs start tonight with region quarterfinal games in Classes 7A-5A. The winners advance to the semifinals on Friday. Below are the first-round pairings — and capsules– featuring local teams in each class.

Class 7A

Region 2
No. 5 Newsome (20-6) at No. 4 Plant (19-7), 7

In a dramatic walk-off victory two months ago, the Wolves triumphed in the sole regular-season encounter between the teams. Newsome’s reliable pitchers have been instrumental in the team’s current three-game winning streak, during which they’ve allowed only one run, culminating in a 7A-6 district championship. Meanwhile, the Panthers, reigning 7A-7 district champions, have secured victories in four of their recent five matchups.

No. 6 Palm Harbor University (16-8) at No. 3 Durant (21-4), 7

The Hurricanes are seeking a comeback after dropping four of their last six games. Similarly, the Cougars are looking to regain their form following a loss to Newsome in the 7A-6 district championship game, which ended their 10-game winning streak.

Class 6A

Region 2
No. 8 East River (15-11) at No. 1 Land O’ Lakes (21-5), 7

The 6A-5 district champion Gators, the top seed in the region, have found their pitching groove again, allowing a combined four runs during their current five-game win streak. East River had its five-game win streak end with a nine-inning loss to Lake Minneola in the 6A-7 district semifinals.

No. 7 Lakeland (16-10) at No. 2 Wiregrass Ranch (13-6), 7

This is not exactly the way the Bulls envisioned entering the postseason. They have lost three of their last four games and have given up double digits in runs in their last two contests. The Dreadnaughts have struggled, too. After starting the season 14-2, Lakeland has lost eight of its last 10 games.

Region 3
No. 8 Punta Gorda Charlotte (14-13) at No. 1 East Lake (24-3), 7

The Eagles claimed the top seed in the region after beating defending state champion Sickles for the 6A-10 district title. East Lake’s success is due in large part to a pitching staff that posted shutouts in four of its last five victories. The Tarpons got hot at the right time, winning the 6A-12 district title with two victories to snap a three-game losing streak.

No. 5 Bloomingdale (16-12) at No. 4 Palmetto (15-11), 7

This is a rematch from last week’s 6A-11 district title game that the Tigers won 4-2. The loss snapped the Bulls’ three-game win streak. Palmetto overcame a 3-6 start to win 12 of its last 17 games.

No. 7 Largo (16-10) at No. 2 Sickles (20-7), 7

The teams meet for the second time in a week. The defending state champion Gryphons won last week’s matchup 3-0 in the 6A-10 semifinals. Despite the loss, the Packers secured an at-large bid and are in the playoffs for the first time under the new state ranking system and just the fifth time in school history.

No. 6 Armwood (15-6) at No. 3 Gaither (18-6), 7

The host Cowboys took home the 6A-10 district title to extend their win streak to four games. The Hawks, meanwhile, are trying to bounce back after a loss in the 6A-10 semifinals snapped their five-game win streak.

Class 5A

Region 2
No. 5 River Ridge (13-14) at No. 4 Lake Wales (13-13), 7

The Royal Knights’ three-game winning streak came to an end with a loss to Wesley Chapel in the 5A-8 district final. Meanwhile, the Highlanders aim to bounce back after dropping two of their last three games.

No. 2 Cypress Creek (15-8) at No. 7 Ocala Vanguard (18-9), 7

The Coyotes aim to achieve consistency in the postseason following a 3-3 record in their last six games. However, they face a challenge against the 5A-6 district champion Knights, who are on a five-game winning streak.

No. 6 Deltona Pine Ridge (15-11) at No. 3 Wesley Chapel (17-10), 7

The Wildcats triumphed over Pasco and River Ridge with a combined score of 15-2, securing the 5A-8 title. Meanwhile, the Panthers aim to recover from a 1-2 record in their recent trio of games.

Region 3
No. 8 Cape Coral Island Coast (19-9) at No. 1 Jesuit (21-6), 7

The Tigers, on an eight-game winning streak, are showcasing their finest baseball of the season. This successful run includes notable wins against IMG, Calvary Christian, and Northside Christian. Similarly, Island Coast is building momentum with a streak of five consecutive victories.

No. 5 Seminole (19-8) at No. 4 Osceola (18-7), 7

The host Warriors have won their previous two meetings against their fiercest rival this season, including last week’s 5-2 victory in the Class 5A-10 district semifinals. Osceola, which took home the district title, has won six of its last seven games.

No. 2 Northeast (22-4) at No. 7 Naples (21-7), 7

Both teams are ranked among the top 10 in the class by MaxPreps (The Vikings are No. 8 and the host Eagles are No. 10). Despite being the No. 2 seed in the region, Northeast has to travel in the first round after losing to Osceola in the 5A-10 district title game.