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Gators can't touch CCC

Clearwater Central Catholic shuts out Land O'Lakes 10-0 in Dunedin's Easter Tournament.

By JOHN C. COTEY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 26, 2002

CLEARWATER -- Justin O'Keeffe needed only a few pitches Monday night to figure out it was going to be his night.

"After the first couple of swings, I could tell they were having trouble with the curveball," he said. "They weren't even touching it.

"So I kept throwing it."

And Land O'Lakes kept struggling with it, through five innings and a 10-0 loss at the Dunedin Easter Tournament as O'Keeffe's undefeated Clearwater Central Catholic team moved into the semifinals.

The Marauders (15-0) had only six hits, but they all came in the fourth and fifth innings as CCC scored all 10 of its runs.

CCC was helped by the wildness of the Gator pitchers, though early on it looked like a pitching duel would ensue as both pitchers were nearly perfect through three innings.

Land O'Lakes starter Philip Whitten didn't allow a hit, but showed signs of impending wildness with two walks in the third inning.

In the fourth, the game blew up on him and the Gators. To open the inning, Whitten threw 10 straight balls. Then CCC's Casey Rabon laid down a bunt for a hit to load the bases with no outs.

After a strikeout, Whitten walked in a run and then surrendered in succession run-scoring singles to Jamie McKean, Steve Saunders and Shawn Williams.

Adam Holland relieved and walked his first batter, and a hit batter and three walks by two more relievers made for a hasty Gator demise.

"We got lucky; he got wild," said CCC coach Todd Vaughn.

The last of Land O'Lakes four pitchers, Anthony Makowski, walked in the final two runs of the game.

CCC only outhit Land O'Lakes 6-5. Three times the Gators (6-9) led off innings with basehits, but failed steal attempt and two double plays kept them from advancing any runners to third base.

The Marauders' O'Keeffe (5-0) was coming off an 11-strikeout no-hitter last week over Tampa Prep. With another shutout, he lowered his ERA to 0.88, striking out six with no walks.

It was another sterling performance by a CCC pitcher. The Marauders are No. 3 in Class 2A, and the team's pitching is a big reason why. Monday's shutout was the team's ninth this season, and it has outscored the opposition 106-9.

Land O'Lakes dropped to 6-9.

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