By THOM WATSON
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 26, 2001
CLEARWATER -- One of the area's top rivalries -- Jesuit vs. Tampa Catholic -- will get a little more interesting in tonight's Class 3A, District 9 final.
Many predicted they would meet for the title, but both No. 1 seed TC and No. 2 seed Jesuit had to battle hard to survive Wednesday's semifinals.
Jesuit, the defending 3A state champs, had to score twice in the bottom of the sixth to edge Clearwater Central Catholic 3-2. TC followed by winning 4-1 over St. Petersburg Catholic, a team the Crusaders beat 10-0 just a couple of weeks ago.
But Jesuit got the bigger scare when CCC scored two runs in the top of the sixth to go ahead 2-1.
The Tigers answered when Ryan Stanley connected with a two-run single. Stanley also hit a solo home run and had all three Jesuit RBI.
In TC's win, the Crusaders took advantage of four SPC errors. TC left the bases loaded in the first and second innings but took the lead with a run in the second. Brian Nowotny led off with single and scored on a fielder's choice and an error.
SPC tied it at 1 in the third when Kyle Conrad led off with a walk and moved to second on an error. He scored on a single by Adam Gorman, who finished with two of the Barons' five hits.
The Crusaders scored two more in the fourth without the aid of a hit as SPC committed two errors. Tampa Catholic hit two sacrifice flies to make it 3-1. "We left a few men on base, especially early, and that could have hurt," TC coach Chuck Yingling said. "Luckily it didn't."
"We thought if we gave up four runs or less tonight, we would have a chance at winning," SPC coach Mike Hoffman said. "We can't ask them to make every play, but we can ask them to play hard. And they did that tonight."