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PHCC ends baseball slump with 7-4 win over nemesis HCC

By JOHN C. COTEY

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 29, 2000


The Pasco-Hernando Community College baseball team finally remembered how to win Monday night and it came against a season-long nemesis.

The Conquistadors defeated Hillsborough Community College 7-4 after losing three straight to HCC earlier this season (12-10, 13-6, 12-10). PHCC had outhit HCC in the three losses and it did it again Monday night 10-6.

The Conquistadors had been in a four-game losing streak as the Suncoast Conference began second-half play.

The defense was not helping the cause despite improved pitching. And when the defense was good, the hitting wasn't. In three losses to St. Petersburg Junior College -- 8-5, 6-3 and 5-1 -- PHCC hit just .233. And despite outhitting Manatee CC 10-6, it lost 6-1 to kick off its losing streak.

Some of the bright spots going into the HCC game were Zach McDonald's .346 batting average, which included a team-best .371 mark in conference play, and Garrett Jones, who was batting .333 with six home runs and 23 RBI.

Most of the PHCC power has come off the bat of freshman Kevin Collins, who had seven home runs and 30 RBI, both team highs.

Before Monday night's games, Manatee led the conference at 11-4, SPJC was 10-5, HCC 8-7, Polk 7-7, PHCC 4-10 and Santa Fe 4-11.

SAINT LEO BASEBALL: Coach Eddie Stabile picked up his 100th victory Saturday when the Lions beat Florida Tech 4-1, but it won't be his most memorable moment from the weekend.

That would be the Lions' 17-16 loss to the Panthers on Sunday.

In fact, the loss might be the most memorable of Stabile's career. The Lions blew an 11-2 lead, rallied to retake the lead, then lost it again to fall to 26-10 on the season and, more important, 6-3 in the Sunshine State Conference.

"It was very, very frustrating," Stabile said. "I feel we have to win all our conference games to have a chance to win the conference. After we had the two against (SSC leader) Tampa, I told the team two might be all we can afford, that we might not be able to lose another conference game all year."

But it did Sunday in a wild one. "It was," Stabile said, "the weirdest game I've been in."

Tech scored eight runs in the fifth to pull within one and took a 14-11 lead entering the eighth.

Joe Ricciardi, though, blasted a pinch-hit grand slam to give the Lions the lead, and they added an insurance run to make it 16-14. Again, the lead would not hold as wild pitching led to two Panther runs in the eighth and the winner in the ninth.

Stabile said the entire team had a mental meltdown, from the players to the coaches. "We got too complacent, all of us," he said. "But we were just as much to blame as them."

The loss didn't affect the Lions in the latest Division II poll as they moved from No. 7 to No. 6. North Florida and Tampa are 1-2.

QUICK HITS: The Saint Leo softball team split a doubleheader with No. 21 Florida Southern last week, winning 1-0 behind Lacey Hardesty's complete game. The Lions are 25-10. ... Desiree Croteau leads the Lions softball team with 16 wins, a 0.74 ERA and .384 batting average.

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