tampabay.com

Price is just right for Armwood

By BRYAN BURNS and JIM REESE
Published April 2, 2006


Armwood right-hander Rory Price threw a no-hitter against Brandon in the Hawks' 3-0 victory on Tuesday. It was the second time this season Price has been part of a no-hitter for Armwood.

In the Hawks' last game before the Saladino Tournament, Price combined with four other Armwood pitchers to no-hit Tampa Bay Tech on March 15. Price started the first three innings, before giving way to Rayman Stecker. Tyler Willoughby, Bobby Bolling, and Jason Chancey also pitched in the Hawks' 11-0 win.

Against Brandon on Tuesday, Price wasn't dominating. He walked two batters and hit two more, but the defense made up for any miscues.

"He probably didn't have his best stuff," Armwood coach Joey Fernandez said. "He threw a lot of groundballs, and our guys did a great job behind him defensively. Our catcher, Bolling, made a couple of great plays to bail him out."

In the Saladino Tournament, Price threw a one-hitter against Chamberlain, but was saddled with the loss when the Chiefs parlayed that hit into the only run of the game in a 1-0 victory.

"He's been very consistent," Fernandez said. "He's our No. 1 pitcher, and he's a big reason why we're 11-5 so far this season."

Price shows a record of 5-3 with a 1.80 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 46.2 innings pitched.

PANTHER PROWESS: The emergence of sophomore pitcher David Bergin for Plant has been a boost to the pitching staff. Through 22 innings, Bergin is 4-0 and has given up less than half a run a game.

"He's been pitching well," Plant coach Dennis Braun said. "David's a guy that's matured since last year and really stepped up."

Bergin and junior Nick Debacker (5-1, 1.80 ERA) are two of the top starters in the county and form a solid 1-2 punch for Plant. But Braun said the pitching staff consists of more than just those two.

"We have at least 10 guys who I feel comfortable putting on the mound with the game on the line," he said. "We've got numbers, it's just a matter of who's going to step up when called on."

ALL-AROUND SUCCESS: Durant's hitting is catching up with its pitching. After scoring 38 runs in the Saladino Tournament, where it lost to Hillsborough 3-2 in the final, the Cougars (16-4) have run off successive wins over East Bay and Plant City.

Coach Ron Fussell has his sons, Jeremy and Josh, to thank for the resurgence in hitting. Sophomore Jeremy, who had only six hits coming into the Saladino, picked up 12 hits during the tournament to set a record, a mark he shares with Hillsborough's Orlando Bacon, who also had 12 this year.

It also was a big week for Josh. The senior outfielder belted a 425-foot grand slam against East Bay in a mercy-rule 11-0 win on Tuesday, then added a two-run shot against Plant City in a 7-6 squeaker on Friday.

On the pitching side, Tony Garcia (6-1) goes for career victory No. 22 on Tuesday at home against Riverview. A win would give the senior a school record. Fellow hurlers Carmine Giardina (6-1) and Trent Davis (4-1) round out a staff that has Durant locking up a No. 2 seed in the district tournament should front-runner Sarasota defeat winless East Bay on Friday.

TIME TO BUCKLE DOWN: With five district losses, Wharton coach Scott Hoffman knows the next two weeks are critical. Upcoming district games with Bloomingdale, Tampa Bay Tech and Brandon could make or break the Wildcats' season.

"This is it for us," Hoffman said. "If we can get hot like we were when we got to the Saladino, we could make some noise."

In that tournament, Wharton lost to Durant 2-1 in the semifinal. This year must be considered a success for the rebuilding Wildcats (11-8), who lost all of their outfield and three infielders from last year's team. Two players carried the load this past week. Third baseman George Capote homered with the bases loaded in a 9-7 win over Armwood on Friday, and junior Vinny Lally gave Wharton six strong innings against Freedom earlier in the week before leaving due to a high pitch count; the Wildcats eventually fell 8-1. It was the third no-decision this year for Lally (3-0).

"No Wharton team has ever gotten as far as the Saladino semifinals, so we are very proud of that," Hoffman said. "Now if we can get good pitching out of Vinny (Lally) and Colin Carmody over the next couple of weeks, we'll feel real good about our season as we head into districts."