CCC wraps up state berth

By Bob Putnam
Published May 9, 2007

CLEARWATER - Ryan Weber handled the pitching, Joe McLemore and Sam Mende handled the hitting, and Clearwater Central Catholic handled Fort Pierce John Carroll on Tuesday night.

With Weber throwing a complete-game six-hitter and McLemore and Mende each getting two hits, the Marauders defeated the Rams 5-1 in a Class 3A region finals.

CCC 24-4 plays in the state semifinals Monday at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota.

Weber gave up back-to-back hits for the first time this season and allowed his first earned run in seven games. But he was brilliant when the Marauders needed him most.

Weber contained the potent Rams offense, which had scored a combined 16 runs in the previous two games. Spotting pitches with pinpoint control and changing locations to keep hitters off balance, Weber was in command throughout.

It was hard to imagine John Carroll being shut down like this after the way it pounded the ball in the playoffs. But Weber did not walk a batter and 52 of his 70 pitches were for strikes. Working ahead in the count all game, Weber put the Rams on the defensive and led CCC to its fourth final four appearance in the past six seasons.

"I didn't have my strikeout pitching working (Tuesday night), but I was efficient, " said Weber, who improved to 10-0. "I threw a lot of strikes and was able to get some groundouts at the end."

After two scoreless innings, the Marauders got things going with one run in the third inning, three in the fourth and another in the fifth. Mende and McLemore carried the offense with four of the Marauders' nine hits.

"We wanted some big innings early, but their pitcher has his off-speed stuff working and was throwing well, " CCC coach Todd Vaughan said. "We made some adjustments and had enough at-bats to do some things later on."

Bob Putnam can be reached at putnam@sptimes.com or at (727) 445-4169.