They chase Miami Killian's starter but can't solve the reliever, ultimately falling 5-4 in nine.
By MIKE READLING
Published May 29, 2004
TAMPA - It may have taken the difficult hard route, but Miami Killian held on long enough to finally inch past Bloomingdale in a Class 6A semifinal Friday night at Legends Field.
The Cougars gave up three runs early but fought back behind a strong relief performance from Eric Berkowitz to beat the Bulls 5-4 in nine innings and advance to the championship game for the first time.
The Cougars (22-7) play Cypress Bay tonight at 8. Neither school has won a state title.
The Bulls ended their season with a 25-5 record and a loss in the semifinals for the second time in three years. They also finished Hillsborough County's chances at a state title, joining Jesuit and Alonso as semifinal victims.
Friday's game seem destined for a five-inning mercy rule ending but quickly turned around when Killian coach Pete Hertler replaced starter Teddy Kaufman with Berkowitz after four batters.
Hertler, who entered with a 7-0 record and 0.91 ERA, gave up three runs on two singles and a double while recording only one out in the first inning.
Berkowitz came in, allowed a single then retired 23 of the next 26, including 14 straight before Ryan Strauss singled in the eighth.
Unlike Strauss, Bloomingdale's starter, Berkowitz did it by relying on teammates. Only six of those outs came via strikeout.
Strauss, on the other hand, mowed through the Killian lineup, striking out 15. The problem was, once the Cougars reached base, they were able to work themselves around to the plate.
David Capote, for example, got Killian on the board in the first when he singled to right and then scored on Adrian Gonzalez's double. The Cougars scored again in the third, when Javier Echaniz was hit by a pitch and Danny Robitaille singled.
Echaniz scored on a passed ball and Robitaille on Capote's double to tie it at 3.
That's how it stayed until the ninth when Killian again used it's scrappiness to put together the winning rally.
Gonzalez reached after getting hit and then scored on Angel Nicolas' triple to right. Nicolas scored on a chopper to third when the throw home hit him in the head.