By JASON PAFUNDI
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 26, 2002
CLEARWATER -- Clearwater Central Catholic hasn't had many tight games this season. That tends to be the case with a team that has one loss and is ranked No. 2 in Class 2A.
But on Thursday night, CCC faced something it hadn't seen this year: a seventh-inning deficit.
The Marauders scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to defeat Sarasota Cardinal Mooney 3-2 and claim the district championship.
Jude Maloney singled home the winning run for the Marauders (27-1) with the bases loaded and two outs. Steven Silver and Logan James walked to start the inning and advanced on a sacrifice by Brandon Diaz. Cougars pitcher Joey Gibson intentionally walked Chris Heil to load the bases. Casey Rabon then walked to force home Silver and tie the game, but Gibson struck out John Petika to put the pressure on Maloney.
The Cougars scored a run in each of the first two innings off CCC starter Justin O'Keeffe.
CCC will play its first state tournament game at home Tuesday night.
If anyone is going to deny Northside Christian its fourth straight district championship, it might want to start with the basics.
Say, getting a hit?
Andy Park threw the Mustangs second straight no-hitter, and Lastings Milledge, Scott Leffler and Brian LeClerc combined to go 7-for-9 as Northside Christian coasted into the championship game with a 10-0, six-inning win over Manatee H.E.A.T. on Thursday night.
Park struck out two batters in every inning but one to finish with 10, leaving opponents without a hit against the Mustangs in two district tournament games. Only a fourth-inning walk spoiled Park's bid for a perfect game.
The H.E.A.T., a team of home-schooled players, got a first inning lead-off double in their Tuesday win over Shorecrest in the quarterfinals, but went the final 13 innings without a hit.
Milledge started the Mustangs (28-2) scoring with a two-run homer in the first, his county-leading 11th, and LeClerc (3-for-3) and Leffler (a double and a game-ending triple) kept the offense going from there.
The Mustangs will host Bradenton St. Stephen's in the final Friday at 7 p.m. St. Stephen's won the other semifinal Thursday beating Admiral Farragut 8-1.
-- JOHN C. COTEY
Seminole Presbyterian assured itself at least a chance to get back to the state tournament, defeating Bayshore Christian 14-4 in a game shortened to five innings in a semifinal.
The Lancers will play Indian Rocks Christian, winners over Temple Heights in the other semifinal, in today's final at 7 p.m.
-- TIMES STAFF