An inspirational tape and a crucial hit in the seventh inning helps the Lions edge Wharton for the district title.
By JEREMY RASMUSSEN, Times staff
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 27, 2001
TAMPA -- King roped in a 2-1 win over Wharton for the Class 5A, District 11 championship Thursday.
Earlier in the week, Lions coach Jim Macalusa borrowed an idea from an inspirational tape by Louisiana State coach Skip Bertman. It involved using a piece of rope as a mnemonic for the team.
"If you were hanging off a cliff, you'd trust your teammate to pull you up by that rope," Macalusa said.
"It symbolizes that everyone has to step up when called on."
In the bottom of the seventh inning with the score tied 1-1, King's Allen Hicks singled to centerfield. Freshman pinch-hitter Josh Johnson took two strikes before delivering a perfect sacrifice bunt up the third-base line.
Wharton walked Daniel Brooks to bring up Jason Aprile, who knocked the winning single over second base to score Hicks.
"We've been preaching all year how the little things like sac bunts are so important to winning," Macalusa said.
Wharton (15-10) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second after Josh Spivey scored on a wild pitch by Steve Locke (4-1). But Locke was solid most of the way, striking out seven.
King (17-8) evened the score in the fourth inning when pinch-hitter Kurt Baxley scored Cale Crews, who had reached base on a hard single to leftfield.
Macalusa said the team felt it had not been getting much respect despite being the top seed.
"Wharton and Plant are great teams, but I told the guys that it doesn't matter if people don't know who you are. Just show up on April 26 and win. Then, they'll know." -- JEREMY RASMUSSEN
Durant won its third district title in four years after defeating Gaither 11-0.
Durant's Steve Lee earned the complete-game victory and centerfielder Mike Maslar and designated hitter Kyle Adkins combined for five RBI.
Durant (19-6) will host Tuesday's regional opener against Sarasota Riverview, which lost to Venice 4-3. Gaither (19-8) will travel to Venice. -- TIMES STAFF
Plant City will play in its first regional baseball playoff game since 1968, but the Raiders will have to do it on the road after losing the district final 7-3 to Lakeland. Plant City will travel to the Kissimmee-Orlando area to play the winner of 5A, District 7. -- TIMES STAFF