Baseball: A Plant pitcher is born

Mychal Givens, usually dazzling at shortstop, is growing more confident on the mound.

By Eduardo A. Encina, Times Staff Writer
Published March 1, 2008

TAMPA - Mychal Givens has a bright future as a shortstop, but if he can continue to duplicate the effort he gave on the mound Friday night in an important district game against Jesuit, the Panthers are going to be tough to beat.

Givens, already projected as the fifth pick in next year's amateur baseball draft by Baseball America, held Jesuit in check Friday night at Wade Boggs Field, allowing only an unearned run in six innings and leading the undefeated Panthers to a 4-1 win over the Tigers in a Class 5A, District 10 game.

"I think he really became a pitcher tonight," Plant coach Dennis Braun said of Givens.

Givens scattered six Jesuit hits, and save an unearned run in the second, no Tigers base runner got past second base against him. In three starts this season spanning 15 innings, Givens (3-0) has yet to allow an earned run.

"I was happy with my performance," Givens said. "I had confidence in myself and I kept the ball down in the zone."

Plant (8-0) could also thank some uncharacteristic sloppy Jesuit defense for the win. In the bottom half of the second inning, two walks, two errors and two passed balls gave the Panthers three runs in the inning to break a 1-all tie.

"We preach every day in practice that in order to beat great teams we have to play defense," Jesuit coach Richie Warren said. "(The mistakes) take you out of what you want to do."

The Tigers (6-1) still had several opportunities to break through against Givens while Jesuit starter Greg Holsen found his rhythm after the second, allowing just two hits over the next four innings.

Jesuit had runners in scoring position in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, but couldn't score. In the sixth inning, Jesuit had runners at first and second with one out, but designated hitter Joey Spack hit into a 6-4-3 double play.

Givens said mixing in a change-up, a new addition to his repertoire, helped him work out of tough situations.

"I knew I could use it to keep them off balance because I'm mostly a fastball pitcher," Givens said.

Tigers third baseman Joe Hudson and catcher Matt Fest had two hits each for Jesuit, which outhit Plant 7-4. Plant centerfielder Connor Mitchell was the only Panthers hitter with multiple hits with a pair of singles.

Plant 4 Jesuit 1