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Memorable matchup

Nature Coast, Pasco meet tonight for district supremacy.

By JOHN C. COTEY
Published March 20, 2007


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Pasco has proven itself to be the best team this county has to offer. It 10-runned Land O'Lakes, handled Ridgewood and sneaked by Zephyrhills. But here's one thing it hasn't proven just yet - that it is the best team in Class 4A, District 8. For that, it will have to beat Nature Coast tonight. "This is a big one," coach Ricky Giles said. "They've been playing some good ball lately. And so have we." The Pirates and Sharks are both 7-0 in the district. They both have solid pitching, lineups that can hit from 1-9 and something to prove. While the Pirates have won 12 straight to start the season. Nature Coast has won 10. After tonight, only one of those winning streaks will still be alive, and we'll know, for the moment, who the best team on the North Suncoast is.

Chat session 

Tonight at Nature Coast, the Sharks will put their 10-game win streak on the line against Pasco and its 12-game streak. The battle is for Class 4A, District 8 supremacy - both teams are undefeated in league play. This one is so hot David Murphy actually stopped instant messaging John C. Cotey about Angelina Jolie's new baby to talk about it.

DMURPH003: You see those new pictures of Angelina Jolie's new baby? Dude! So precious!

JOHNCOTEY: Dave ... focus. Let's talk about Tuesday night. Because I think I'm kind of jacked up about this one.

JOHNCOTEY: I don't usually like to venture any further north than Dade City, but I'm thinking about making an exception tonight. You got directions to Nature Coast?

DMURPH003: Sure, John: Just head north on the Suncoast Parkway, and when you think you've gone too far, keep on going.

JOHNCOTEY: I'll just try to follow the smell of burgers. I've got a nose for such things. Tell me, they do sell burgers at Nature Coast baseball games, right? Or should I pack sandwiches?

DMURPH003: They do. It's nice to see you trying hard to break the stereotypes attached to all us sports reporters.

JOHNCOTEY: Fine. I'll wear a clean shirt and my big boy pants.

DMURPH003: Is Pasco going to win this game? Honestly?

JOHNCOTEY: Well, they do have Dustin Brown. He'll start on the mound, and he's sneaky fast. Might be Pasco's best pitcher. And I'm talking the county, not the team.

JOHNCOTEY: We tried to find out if anyone has hit him this year. We found Sasquatch lives up near San Antonio and the Chupacabra (right behind Wesley Chapel in the woods), but no luck finding that player.

DMURPH003: Brown is good. It's actually one of the reasons I'm anxious to see the game. Nature Coast starter Bryan Daniels is a quality high school pitcher, too, and this one could have the makings of one of those four-hit, three-run, seven-inning games.

JOHNCOTEY: Daniels would be a player of the week candidate if he can hold Pasco to four hits. They are hitting .385 as a team and averaging over 11 hits a game. I'm not saying he can't do that, but keep in mind: aluminum bats don't ping in Dade City; they sob.

DMURPH003: How long have you been waiting to use that line?

JOHNCOTEY: September.

JOHNCOTEY: You know what might be the best matchup tonight?

JOHNCOTEY: Pasco catcher Zach Maggard vs. Nature Coast base runners, provided they can get on base. Your guys have 42 steals? That's good. But base runners against Pasco don't slide; they sob.

JOHNCOTEY: Did I just take that line too far?

DMURPH003: Yes. I have to be honest: I'm very, very, verrry interested to see how Nature Coast responds in this kind of game. Keep in mind, this is a team that has only been around for four years.

DMURPH003: Point is, the onus is entirely on Nature Coast. The Sharks are the ones who need to prove themselves.

JohnCotey: Yes, everyone probably expects Pasco to win. Because, well, they should.

DMURPH003: Hey, you aren't going to hear me diminish anything Pasco has accomplished this season. But keep in mind, Nature Coast has won 10 straight games, and it has beaten just about every team that Pasco has.

DMURPH003: Now, tell me, what is Pasco's weakness?

JOHNCOTEY: Pasco's weakness ...

JOHNCOTEY: Hmmmm. brb.

JOHNCOTEY: OK, seriously - not a lot of power.

JOHNCOTEY: Maggard has three homers, No. 9 hitter Trevor Hobbs has two .... team has 7.

JohnCotey: All stats aside, I've had way too many 10-0 games down here this year. I'm just hoping for a nice pitching duel, some key hits, and a late homer.

DMurph003: If anybody in this district can challenge Pasco, I have to think it is Nature Coast. The Sharks are experienced. They are scrappy. They've been playing fundamental baseball and they haven't been beating themselves. And if you can do both of those in high school, you can win the majority of your games.

DMURPH003: I hope to see you up this way.

DMURPH003: I'll alert the guy working the grill that you might be coming. Man, they better hope you don't get hungry during the fifth-inning stretch.

JOHNCOTEY: I believe in stretching after every inning. Because down here in Pasco County, when I show up at games, burgers don't sizzle. They sob.

DMURPH003: Groan.

Hanging out online? Feel free to shoot DMurph003 or JohnCotey a message. Or by e-mail at dmurphy@sptimes.com or johncotey@gmail.com.

BY THE NUMBERS 

7 Shutouts by Pasco this season

41-0 Amount Pasco outscored its opponents in a five-game stretch from March 2-13, including district wins over Gulf, Hernando and South Sumter.

385 Pasco's team batting average.

5 Pasco starters hitting over. 450.

10 Consecutive wins by Nature Coast since an 0-2 start

42 Stolen bases by Nature Coast this season

1 Times Nature Coast has been caught stealing.

568 On-base percentage of Nature Coast leadoff hitter Kyle Kuzniar

612 On-base percentage of Pasco leadoff hitter Jacob Schrader.

Projected lineups 

Nature Coast

Kyle Kuzniar CF Speedy leadoff hitter sets the table for Sharks. Hitting .441 with 17 runs scored, 18 stolen bases.

Kenny Treverton 2B Hitting .317 with five stolen bases and 13 runs scored

Brandon Derespiris SS Hitting .406 with 12 RBIs

Travis Murray 3B Has one of the Sharks' three home runs this season. Also hitting .333.

Ryan Erbe C Hitting .286 with six RBIs.

Chris Jones DH Leads the Sharks with a .444 average.

Lowell Bebout LF Hitting .333 with eight runs scored.

Blake Dudkewic RF Hitting .429 with four runs scored and five RBIs.

Mike Dudek 1B Brings some power to the bottom of the lineup; hitting .316 with eight RBIs and one home run.

Bryan Daniels P The Sharks ace currently is 4-1 with a 1.31 ERA. Also has 30 strikeouts against 15 walks in 26 2/3 innings pitched.

Pasco

Jacob Schrader SS Batting .512, team-high 16 runs.

Will Pullin 2B Batting .306 with 11 runs scored.

Zach Maggard C .564, three HRs, six doubles, 18 RBIs - all team highs

Quintin Jones 1B Batting .462 with a homer, 13 runs scored.

Jorge Jaramillo DH Batting .306.

Ed Boyle 3B One hit in four at-bats, making second start.

Henry Johnson LF .452 batting average with .529 on-base percentage

Josh Johnson RF .348 average with nine runs, eight hits in nine games.

Trevor Hobbs CF Best No. 9 hitter in county; .471 average and 2 homers.

Dustin Brown P No. 1 starter is 5-0 with shutouts in his past two starts.

 

IF YOU GO

Tale of the tape

N. Coast Pasco

Coach Dan Ricky Garofano Giles

Record 10-2 12-0

District Record 7-0 7-0

Runs per game 6.3 8.4

RPG allowed 3.25 1.66

Batting avg. .354 .385

Pasco vs. Nature Coast

When: Tonight at 7

Where: Nature Coast

[Last modified March 20, 2007, 02:47:42]


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