By BRANDON WRIGHT
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 12, 2003
VALRICO -- Sarasota didn't need to search for motivation against Bloomingdale. The Bulls eliminated the Sailors in last season's region final.
Sarasota (6-3) exacted some revenge Tuesday.
Brent Coleman's two-out, fifth-inning single gave the Sailors a 5-4 win in their first game since the playoffs.
"There was extra motivation," Sarasota coach Clyde Metcalfe said. "They knocked us out of the playoffs last year, and that was something we talked about prior to the game."
Sarasota trailed 4-3 heading into the fifth but strung together several hits. The Sailors got four singles in the inning, two with two outs. George Markovich tied it at 4 with a two-out single, then Coleman drove a 1-2 fastball to the opposite field for the winning hit.
"Our kids have been doing a real good job of situational hitting," Metcalfe said. "When we get people in scoring situations, we've been working on moving the ball around, especially with two outs."
James Houser went six innings, striking out 10 and walking none for the win. Casey Hudspeth worked the seventh inning, striking out Tony Thomas with the tying run on third base to preserve the victory.
"Both (Houser and Hudspeth) are ... as good as we'll see this year," Bloomingdale coach K.B. Scull said.
Sarasota capitalized on Bloomingdale (5-2) miscues to take a 3-0 lead into the fourth. The Sailors got just one hit in the nearly half-hour inning but were aided by four walks, two passed balls, a wild pitch and an error.
But the lengthy inning kept Houser, who had given up one hit and struck out six of the first 10 he faced, in the dugout. When he took the mound in the fourth the Bulls' bats came alive.
"I think (the length of the fourth inning) had a profound effect on him," Metcalfe said. "He got up and threw on the side, but when you sit for 25 minutes it takes its toll."
The Bulls did all their damage in the fourth, scoring four runs off Houser. After back-to-back singles Ryan Strauss sliced a double down the rightfield line to score Chris Woody. Ryan Collins then blasted a towering three-run homer to left centerfield, giving the Bulls a brief 4-3 lead.