CLEARWATER -- With two runs in the second inning and four more in the fourth, Clearwater's 6-2 win over Pinellas Park Tuesday was "cut and dry," according to Tornadoes coach Doug Banks, whose team improved to .500 and got back in the middle of the Pinellas County Athletic Conference race.
"Get some good pitching and some good offense and we can win," Banks said. "And it all starts with the man on the hill."
That was lefty starter J.C. Daugherty (3-0), who pitched six innings and gave up just five hits and two runs. Daugherty struck out three Patriots and walked one.
The Tornadoes (4-4) got on the board in the second when two passed balls allowed Chris Jones to cross the plate. Clearwater got its first hit off Pinellas Park starter Kevin Garcia when Cory Graham singled to lead off the inning. Graham would later score when Tyler Baker singled. In the fourth, Matt Monnier and Jimmy Goodman slammed back-to-back triples that produced three runs and finished Garcia's night.
Second baseman Ken Almeida switched positions with Garcia and pitched 11/3 innings.
Pinellas Park (3-6) denied Daugherty the shutout in the sixth when Cody Gelwick doubled in Garcia, with Gelwick crossing the plate after a Almeida single.
Nate Evans came in for Clearwater and pitched one shutout inning in the seventh, but not before loading the bases in what appeared to be a Patriot comeback.
"It's a challenge every day, and we're just trying to find the right roster that we can use for the postseason," Banks said. "That is Clearwater's goal each year, is to get to the postseason, but right now it's still too early to tell."