Former Sickles pitcher Mike Harley fights off early jitters to lead Ravens to a 5-1 semifinal win.
By MIKE READLING
Published May 5, 2004
TAMPA - Alonso pitcher Mike Harley admitted to being a little nervous before his start Tuesday night in the Class 5A, District 7 tournament.
Okay, maybe it was a little more than a little nervous. Who could blame him?
Harley was back at the school where he played his freshman year, pitching against the team he played for before moving to Alonso as a sophomore in what was arguably the biggest game of his life.
After two walks and a wild pitch in the first four batters, Harley fought through the nerves and held on long enough for his Ravens teammates to score the necessary runs to take home a 5-1 win over Sickles.
The victory earned Alonso (21-3) its first berth in the regional playoffs in the school's three-year history. The Ravens play Chamberlain, 8-2 winners over Leto in the other semifinal, at 7 p.m. Thursday for the district title and the privelege of homefield advantage in the first round of the regional tournament.
The loss came in familiar fashion for the Gryphons, who have been victims of a big inning at least five times this season and lost to Alonso the last time the teams met after leading most of the game.
After taking a 1-0 lead in the third on a Carlos Delapaz double that got lost in the lights, the Gryphons unraveled in the fourth. Alonso batted around and scored five despite recording only two hits.
The rest of the inning was walks, a hit batter and two costly errors. That was all the Ravens needed to finish off the game.
"You have to take advantage and capitalize," Alonso coach Landy Faedo said. "That's what good teams do."
Harley ended the night with three walks, eight strikeouts and one big sigh of relief.
"This was a big win for us. We've been wanting to play since we watched (Monday)," Harley said. "It was a little nerve-wracking."
Chamberlain also did its best job of taking advantage of Leto's mistakes.
The Chiefs scored eight in the first three innings thanks in large part to three Falcons errors. That was all the Chiefs (15-10) would need to advance to the championship game.
The Falcons (8-14) put together a rally in the fifth, loading the bases with two out, but Chamberlain gave up only one run.
2A-10: Fort Meade rallies
TAMPA - For Berkeley Prep, it was a third crack at Fort Meade this season.
And although the Buccaneers played better than the previous two times, the third time was not the charm. The Buccaneers rallied and held a late lead but suffered a late collapse as Fort Meade rallied for a 5-4 win in the Class 2A, District 10 tournament. Fort Meade advances to Thursday's final against Lakeland Christian/McKeel Academy.
Berkeley Prep (9-16) lost to Fort Meade twice in the last two months of the regular season by a combined score of 19-4. Still, Bucs coach Fred Pisano sent freshman Eddie Sipple to the mound with the task of handling a potent Miners offense that had enjoyed 12-1 and 7-3 victories.
Until the fifth inning, he did a good job of that. But with Berkeley Prep leading 4-3 and a Fort Meade runner on first, Miners third baseman Brett Smith homered to leftfield.
"The kids played well, they played as a team, we just didn't get the breaks," Pisano said. "We had a freshman pitcher out there and he did a good job. We felt if we minimized our mistakes we could give them a run."
Two early Berkeley Prep errors led to two runs, and Andrew McCutchen's arm and bat took care of the rest. McCutchen pitched five innings and had five strikeouts to get the win. He also went 2-for-2, drew a walk and scored three. Smith went 1-for-2 with a walk, and Jesse Escobar had a double and a run.
Clay Kilgo led the Buccaneers with a double, a single and two runs. Aaron Prida had a single and a run, and Derek Hatcher had two singles.
"It was an up and down year for us," Pisano said. "We played good but just had some inconsistency."
- ROD GIPSON
6A-6: Local teams fall
SARASOTA - Plant City and Riverview were ousted from the Class 6A, District 6 postseason tournament Tuesday as neither was able to hold onto early leads.
In the first game, Plant City fell to Sarasota 5-1 after scoring in the first inning and holding that lead until the sixth, when the Sailors scored five to put the game away.
In the nightcap, Riverview took a two-run first-inning lead only to see Sarasota Riverview come back with three in its half on its way to an 8-2 victory.
The wins put both Sarasota schools into the semifinal round against top seeds Bloomingdale and Durant tonight in Sarasota. Durant and Sarasota begin play at 4 p.m., and Bloomingdale and Sarasota Riverview play at 7:30.
Although his team was eliminated, Plant City coach Robbie Harris saw some good things.
"Playing Sarasota is tough because of their great reputation, richly deserved over the years," he said. "But I thought when we took that one-run lead through five that we might just win. But I guess it wasn't to be. But the kids played tough and I'm proud of them." Devin Vickers led off the game for Plant City (7-18) with a double and scored on a single by Lane Batley. In the sixth, two walks, an infield error, a sacrifice fly and another walk followed by a delayed double steal sealed the Raiders' fate.
In the second game, Riverview (9-14) scored twice in the first on a single by Garrett Maines, a two-base error by Sarasota Riverview and a run-scoring grounder by Tyler Nessmith.
"One thing these players have to learn is to accept success and build on it," Sharks coach Zach Walker said. "We should have capitalized on that lead, but we let them right back in."
The Rams added a run in the second and two in the third and fourth to take control.
Riverview's Maines was both dejected and hopeful.
"We are a young team. We only have one senior on the starting team and we are a bunch of fighters," the centerfielder said. "You wait, we'll be back next year."