Handicapping the state hopefuls

By Joey Knight
Published May 8, 2007

In the spirit of Derby season, we handicap each local team's chances of winning its respective region title game and advancing to the state baseball tournament:

Alonso (26-3) at Sarasota (26-3)

When: 7:30 tonight

Projected starters: Alonso - RHP Tommy Toledo, Sr. (9-1, 1.12 ERA); Sarasota - RHP Evan Stobbs, Sr. (8-1) or RHP Casey Kelly, Jr. (10-0)

Did you know?: Ravens shortstop Chris Freshcorn (.421, 8 HRs) is 6-for-7 in the playoffs so far.

Alonso's odds: 2-1. If this game were being played in Tampa, we would pick Alonso straight up. Sarasota will be buoyed by its tradition (seven state titles) and a standing-room-only home crowd.


Jefferson (16-10) at Venice (23-7)

When: 7:30 tonight

Projected starters: Jefferson - LHP Jonathon Hall, Sr. (5-4, 2.90 ERA); Venice - LHP Ryan Anderson, Sr.

Did you know?: Jefferson's Pop Cuesta, the dean of Hillsborough County baseball coaches, is seeking his first state tournament berth since 1985. That's more than three years before catcher David Regidor - the Dragons' oldest player - was born.

Jefferson's odds: 5-1. A tough stretch for the Dragons. Saturday, they buried murdered classmate C.J. Mills. Now they have to make a long road trip against a team that has won four consecutive district titles.

Newsome (22-8) at Bloomingdale (20-7)

When: 7:30 tonight

Projected starters Newsome - RHP Matt Greer, Sr. (6-2, 2.18 ERA); Bloomingdale - RHP Zach Pietrzyk, Sr. (6-2, 1.17 ERA)

Did you know?: Newsome never has defeated Bloomingdale in its four years of existence and is 0-4 against the Bulls this season.

Bloomingdale's odds: 1-3. When a team is 0-for-life against you, don't you have to possess some kind of psychological edge?

Newsome's odds: 3-1. Gotta believe the Wolves are bent on honoring their outgoing coach by ending their lifetime skid against the Bulls.


Sebring (25-4) at Jesuit (24-5)

When: 7:30 tonight

Projected starters: Sebring - RHP Chaz Abeln, Sr.; Jesuit - RHP Kevin Quackenbush, Sr. (10-4, 1.45 ERA)

Did you know?: Tigers senior Jonathan Koscso, the team's top hitter (.531), has homered in each of Jesuit's past two games and is 6-for-9 since the district tournament began.

Jesuit's odds: 1-2. Quackenbush has had a week's rest. If he brings his best stuff, we like the Tigers' chances of reaching their fifth consecutive state tournament.