By ALEX LYNCH
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 26, 2001
SEMINOLE -- Three runs in the top of the first weren't enough for Pinellas Park as Countryside fought back to win 6-3 behind the pitching of Mike White, earning a rematch Friday night with Seminole, who defeated St. Petersburg 3-2 in the other semifinal.
In the top of the first, Countryside spotted Pinellas Park its lead on two hit batsmen, two errors, a walk and one hit.
But Countryside (17-10) settled down and rode the arm of White (6-1), who struck out 14 and allowed three hits in seven innings.
"He buckled down after the first inning," Countryside coach Steve Sharts said.
Defensively, Pinellas Park did all it could to help the Cougars.
In the third inning, an error allowed two runs to score to make it 3-2. In the fifth, an error by third baseman Matt Paruch put Zach Taylor on second. Another error allowed Taylor to tie the game. White then helped his own cause with a two-run double over centerfielder Randy Bowman's head for a 5-3 lead.
As for Seminole (15-10), the Warhawks got a scare from St. Petersburg but pulled out the 3-2 victory behind the pitching of T.J. Large (9-0).
"We had our chances," Green Devils coach Stefan Futch said. "We held them down but couldn't get the big hit."
NEW PORT RICHEY -- It would be hard to top the disappointment felt by Palm Harbor U. coach Greg Nichols on Wednesday night after his team blew a five-run lead in a 6-5 loss in the district semifinals against Gulf, but East Lake's Lee Byers could come close.
The coach of the district's top-seeded team watched his Eagles almost get no-hit by a pitcher they had shelled a month earlier as East Lake's season ended in a 2-0 loss to Ridgewood.
The Rams and Bucs will meet in an all-Pasco County final Friday. Gulf clinches the first regional playoff berth in school history by virtue of reaching the final.
It did so after the Hurricanes (15-12) knocked Bucs ace Joe Dan Fagan out in the third inning and took a 5-0 lead that it couldn't hold.
In the fourth, Gulf's Sidney Gibbs ended a 12 pitch at-bat with a double and later scored to spark a two-run rally. Gulf (15-14) added two more runs in the fifth before tying the game in the sixth when Rodney Linville scored from third on a slow roller between the mound and first base.
In the seventh, Linville reached on a fielder's choice and scored all the way from first when the Hurricanes' Adam Royster -- who had homered and doubled twice -- threw a routine grounder away down the rightfield line.
If that wasn't enough of a surprise, East Lake (18-10) then went out and lost to Ridgewood (20-9) as Rams junior Ronny Lowe was near perfect.
In his last outing against East Lake, Lowe (4-4) gave up seven runs in East Lake's 17-9 win and didn't last past the third inning. Wednesday, he was brilliant in holding the Eagles hitless for 61/3 innings on the heels of Dave Hancox's no-hitter against River Ridge the night before.
Lowe walked three batters but picked two of them off first base. He struck out six and wasn't touched until Tyler Huegel doubled off the wall in centerfield with one out in the seventh. After a flyout, Mike Guidi singled to right, but sophomore Monte Werner threw Huegel out at the plate to end the game. -- John C. Cotey