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Marauders heating up as season winds down


© St. Petersburg Times, published April 14, 2001

Clearwater Central Catholic is closing the regular season with a flourish.

The Marauders rattled off three consecutive one-run wins against top-shelf competition -- Miami Monsignor Pace, Venice and Punta Gorda Charlotte -- at a tournament in Sarasota last week.

CCC dropped the title game to Bradenton Manatee 8-1, but it bounced back strong with two wins this week to improve to 16-5. CCC was rewarded with a No. 10 ranking in both the Class 3A state poll and the Times Tampa Bay Top 10.

Sparking the Marauders are junior right-handers Shawn Williams and Justin O'Keeffe. Williams is 5-1 with a 1.93 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 47 innings. O'Keeffe is 5-1 with a 1.75 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 40 innings. In addition, both are batting over .300.

Second baseman Logan James leads CCC with a .365 average. Catcher Tom Cromer (.308) slugged a grand slam in the 9-8 win over Charlotte, and Jon Shapland is batting .349 and covers lots of ground in centerfield. Shapland also is 4-1 on the mound.

CCC hopes to secure the No. 3 seed in 3A, District 9, arguably the toughest 3A district in the state, at 4 p.m. Monday at Osceola.

First, the Marauders will finish a suspended game against the Warriors from March 6 (It was tied at 7 in the fifth inning.), and then CCC and Osceola will play their final district game. CCC is 7-3 in the district. Osceola is 6-4.

Jesuit, ranked No. 2 in the state poll and No. 3 in the Times poll, and Tampa Catholic, No. 4 in the Times poll, have secured the top two seeds.

ON THE RISE: After finishing 8-18 a year ago, Boca Ciega has a .500 record -- or better -- in its sights under first-year coach Lynn Barber. The Pirates (12-11) finished third in the Steve Georgiadis Tournament, winning their last two games by shutout.

In Wednesday's 5-0 win over St. Louis Park (Minn.), junior left-hander Ben Pincus tossed a one-hitter with nine strikeouts, and junior Justin Pashak threw a four-hitter in Thursday's 5-0 win over Lakewood. Pincus (5-2, 1.81 ERA, .458 average) and senior catcher Brad Baker (.400) have led the way. MR. PRODUCTION: Dunedin junior first baseman Brian Dopirak had a county-best 46 RBI entering Friday's Dunedin Easter Tournament final. On April 7, in just the 20th game of the season, the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder broke the school single-season record of 40 set last year by Cory Agar, now a Minnesota Twins farmhand.

Dopirak is averaging more than two RBI a game.

STILL THE 1: Seminole, despite losing its appeal to the Florida High School Activities Association for using an ineligible player and forfeiting 10 games, remains unbeaten on the field and retained its No. 1 national ranking in Baseball America's latest poll, released Monday.

In the 5A state poll, though, the Warhawks are ranked No. 4. But it's not as if questionable teams are occupying the top three spots. Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, Merritt Island and Gonzalez Tate are three of Florida's premier programs and were a combined 59-6 after last week.

WELL-ROUNDED: St. Petersburg Catholic catcher Adam Gorman is getting it done on offense and defense. The senior is third in the county with 35 RBI and has thrown out 65 percent of attempted basestealers.

TITLE TILT: Northside Christian will host the Bay Conference title game against a to-be-determined opponent at 7 p.m. Friday. Shorecrest won the title last year.

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