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Bulls tough to overlook

By MIKE READLING, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 28, 2002

TAMPA -- There were probably a lot of wide eyes when fans learned that Bloomingdale took Class 6A, District 5 power Sarasota into the 12th inning before losing in the championship game Thursday.

What were the Bulls doing in the district final and how did they take the perennially strong Sailors five extra frames?

Don't count Bloomingdale coach K.B. Scull as one of those doubters. When asked if he considered his team's appearance in the region quarterfinals Tuesday to be shocking, Scull shrugged. Not one to run around shouting how good his team is, the coach isn't going to deny his Bulls the credit they deserve. "We pitched pretty well and hit pretty well," Scull said. "We had a good week."

That's for sure.

Bloomingdale, which packs up its 13-15 record and heads to 21-9 Palm Beach Gardens for the region opener, started the 6A-5 tournament with a win over Gaither. That set up a semifinal matchup with Venice, which everyone expected to be the Bulls' final game.

But Mitch Rodriguez scored on Chris Woody's single to dispatch the Indians 5-4 and the Bulls found themselves staring at a possible district title, with only Sarasota standing in their way. That might be a daunting task to most, but Scull liked the way his team matched up with Clyde Metcalfe's squad.

"We beat them a few weeks ago," Scull said. "In fact, Ryan Strauss no-hit them that night."

Twelve innings later, Sarasota was the winner but Bloomingdale was on its way to earning some respect from coaches around the state.

"I hope so," Scull said. "Actually, I hope they already respected us a little bit."

In keeping with the east Hillsborough surprises, Brandon turned out to be one of the two big winners in 4A-9. Some people called that one of the most competitive districts in the state, pitting Brandon against Plant, Sickles, Armwood and Jefferson. Any of those would make great region representatives but only two could advance. The Eagles (16-10) not only advanced, but they beat heavy favorite Plant in the final and earned the right to stay home against Auburndale. Don't feel too sorry for the Panthers, however. Their loss dropped them to 22-4 on the season and sends them to the winner of 4A-10. That team? Kathleen. Its record? 6-24.

Tampa Catholic, the county's lone defending state champion, had a rough time with Jesuit in the 3A-9 final, losing 8-3. If the Crusaders hope to come close to Legends Field for a shot to defend their title, pitching will have to improve, coach Chuck Yingling said.

Jesuit, by the way, is playing in its 11th straight region tournament.

Perhaps the most interesting region is going to be A-3. The four teams expected to meet in the semifinals are considered to be the class of the, well, class.

If the regular season is any indication, Seminole Presbyterian (26-5) will face St. Stephen's (21-5) in one semifinal and Winter Haven All Saints' takes on Northside Christian in the other. Any one of those teams is capable of winning a state title and only two will advance to the region final.

"You're going to see what should be the final four in the region semifinals," Seminole Presbyterian coach J.J. Pizzio said.

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