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The more energetic and driven the opponent, the better the performance and enjoyment of Northeast's Joey Tribou.
By JOHN C. COTEY
Published May 5, 2006
ST. PETERSBURG - Joey Tribou heard about Robinson's 10 steals in its district final, and Tuesday night he saw the Knights run the bases against Dunedin with wild abandon.
It was enough to make one of the county's most confident and strong-armed catchers, well, drool a little bit.
"I can't wait," Tribou said.
At 7 p.m., the Vikings will host Robinson in a Class 5A region semifinal, and maybe more important than stopping the Knights from reaching base is stopping them once they do.
This season, Robinson has made up for its lackluster hitting by aggressively running the bases. They stole more than 20 bases in the district tournament alone, ran Hillsborough ragged, and at Dunedin made an attempt to swipe every base at least once, including home.
"Look," said Robinson coach Sal Urso, "we have no choice but to be aggressive. We can't hit so we have to make things happen."
They may want to proceed with more caution tonight, because when it comes to aggressiveness, the Knights will meet their match in Tribou.
"I'm expecting them to run a lot," Tribou said. "I've been resting my arm ever since I heard (they like to run). I've iced it every day and haven't been throwing at practice. I want it to be 100 percent."
Not only has his big right arm thrown out over 75 percent of would-be base stealers, he has probably attempted more pickoff throws than any other catcher in the county.
He once threw down to first base three times, all during the same at-bat.
"Any outside pitch, he almost always throws it down to try and pick the runner off," Northeast first baseman Austin Yee said. "I tell him to just get it to me, and that gives him a lot of confidence. We have a few signs, but you can tell what runners are pretty cocky. It's common sense. And then it's automatic."
Like Yee, shortstop Nick Shaw also has an unspoken relationship with Tribou when it comes to the pickoff.
"I'll throw it anywhere," Tribou said.
He will be helped in his quest to slow the Knights down by starting pitcher Josh Bowman, who not only has been extremely effective keeping runners off base, but is quick to home with his pitches.
And his move to first?
"One of the best I've ever seen," Tribou said. "They're going to have a difficult time out there. I'm hoping they are aggressive, because that's the way I am and that's the way I like it."