Crusaders done in by familiar foe

By Brandon Wright
Published May 10, 2007

SARASOTA - Different field, same result.

For the second year in a row Sarasota Christian knocked Canterbury out of the region finals, this time at the Blazers' field, with a 6-2 victory Wednesday.

"I think we came out a little flat out of the gate, " Crusaders assistant coach John Lancaster. "We didn't hit the ball good enough to win."

The Crusaders 22-6 beat Sarasota Christian (19-6) both times during the regular season but as was the case last year, the Blazers proved postseason poison.

"Beating a team three times (in a season) is a tall order, " Lancaster said.

Despite the four-run margin, the Crusaders made the seventh inning interesting. Singles by Charlie Curtis, James Gray and John Giles loaded the bases, bringing Brandon Hamilton to the plate with two outs. Hamilton drove an outside fastball deep into the right centerfield gap for apparent extra bases.

"I was thinking it would clear the bases and I'd be on third when it left my bat, " Hamilton said. "No question."

But Blazers centerfielder Derek Ebersole got a tremendous jump and tracked down the ball to end the game.

"I thought it was in the gap, " Blazers coach Keith Ebersole said. "I don't know how he caught that ball, but it was a big-time play."

Crusaders starter Joe Cuda (7-3) struggled a bit - especially with cleanup batter Ebersole and fifth-place hitter Zach Barkema - as the Blazers built a 4-0 lead. The pair combined to go 5-for-6, including a two-run blast from Barkema in the second.

"Joe didn't have his best stuff tonight and struggled getting his curve over for a strike, " Lancaster said. "And when that happens, it makes the fastball look a lot more hittable."

Thomas Henry's RBI groundout in the fifth got Canterbury on the scoreboard before Mitchell Todd cut the score to 5-2 the next inning.

"We didn't strike out that much tonight and we didn't make errors, " Hamilton said. "We just didn't get timely hits when we needed them."

Brandon Wright can be reached at bwright@sptimes.com or (727) 892-2216.



Baseball state tournament

All games at Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota

Class 5A

Newsome (23-8) vs. Port St. Lucie (23-6), 5 p.m. Wednesday

Class 3A

Clearwater Central Catholic (24-4) vs. Jacksonville Bolles (24-6), Monday