By PETE YOUNG
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 4, 2001
SEMINOLE -- A team can accomplish a lot in 18 days. It can also regress in that time.
The latter was the case Tuesday for Canterbury, which had not played -- and had barely practiced -- in 18 days due to various school- and weather-related circumstances.
The re-acclimating Crusaders were no match for Indian Rocks Christian and pitcher Kevin Wright, who came within one out of a complete-game shutout in the Eagles' 6-1 win at the Seminole Junior Warhawks complex.
IRC (9-8, 5-1) clinched no worse than a first-place tie in Class A, District 10. If Canterbury (6-3, 4-1) beats Keswick Christian on Thursday, the tiebreaker for the district's top seed will be determined by overall winning percentage.
"Kevin Wright threw the ball real well, and we made the plays when we needed to," said IRC coach D.J. Springman, whose team, which won just one game last season, played error-free ball behind Wright. "It was a good game all the way around."
Canterbury defeated IRC 2-1 in extra innings in their first meeting, but the Eagles quickly built a comfortable lead Tuesday. With Canterbury starter Warren Wood (4-1) struggling with his control, IRC scored five times in the bottom of the second, all with two outs.
Warren Garrison's home run to left got things started, and it was followed by a walk, error and another walk to load the bases.
Wood seemed to escape the dilemma when he struck out Shawn Keill. But the ball scooted past catcher Nick Sango, Keill raced to first base and Caleb Welsh dashed in from third to make it 2-0. After a walk and a wild pitch upped the lead to 4-0, Wood was lifted for Mark Sawyer.
A single by Brett Shannon made it 5-0 before Sango nailed Shannon stealing to finally end the inning.
The rest of the game was anticlimactic, with Wright (4-0), a junior, on cruise control. He went the distance, striking out 12 and walking only one while allowing just four hits.
"The rust showed, but Kevin pitched a real good game, too," Canterbury coach Randy Shoemaker said. "Our hitting was just way behind. Our pitching was down."
For IRC, Matt Sitton was 2-for-2 with 2 walks, 1 run, 1 RBI and a stolen base.