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Mistakes force Pasco's early exit

A costly error and a lack of clutch hits leave the Pirates on the short end of a 2-1 score and out of the playoffs.

By JAMAL THALJI, BRIAN McLAUGHLIN and KEITH NIEBUHR

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 2, 2001


DADE CITY -- In 2001, Pasco was hoping for a repeat of the 1997 trip to the state finals. Instead, the Pirates got a painful rerun of '98, the last time they won the district and lost a home playoff opener.

Palatka held off Pasco 2-1 in Tuesday night's Class 4A regional quarterfinal nail-biter at Death Valley.

The Pirates (22-8) finished the game with no earned runs, two costly errors, three pitchers on the mound in one inning and seven stranded on base.

"I tell you what, it seems a lot like '98," Pasco coach Ricky Giles said. "We weren't very selective with our pitches, we were swinging at breaking balls in the dirt. We just made too many mistakes."

Scott DeWitt singled in Orlando Rosales to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first.

But in the top of the fifth with two men on, Panthers' pitcher Marion Knowles belted a line-drive right at shortstop Lee Cruz that flew right by his outstretched glove, scoring Zach Becker and Seth Alfred to take a 2-1 lead.

Knowles (6-2) earned the win, allowing five hits, striking out four and walking three in a complete game effort for Palatka (22-8).

Jesse Wilson (7-2) took the loss for Pasco, striking out four, walking four and allowing two hits in 51/3 innings. DeWitt led the Pirates, going 2-of-3 with a double and the RBI.

Bobby Badger gave Pasco two strong innings in relief, striking out two, walking two and allowing two hits. But the Pirates couldn't generate any offense and the defense was of no help.

"They made a couple of errors that helped us out," Palatka coach Jerome Wilkerson said. -- JAMAL THALJI

4A-2: Central can't hold lead

GAINESVILLE -- Leave it to a scrappy play under the direction of a scrappy coach to bring Gainesville Eastside its first-ever state playoff win in the school's 31st season. Anthony Anderson scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the sixth inning to defeat Central 7-6 on Tuesday in the regional quarterfinals. Anderson reached first base on a wild pitch, despite striking out. He then stole second before reaching third on another wild pitch.

Anderson came home when Will Clapp, a steady clutch hitter, punched a bouncing single between third base and shortstop to easily drive home the game-winning run. "Nobody gave them a chance, nobody believed that they could do it," Eastside coach Ronnie Sowell said. "I said to the guys, that when I come out here, winning is the attitude and when that's your attitude, nobody's going to stop you."

Things looked shaky for Eastside early. In the third inning, Central (14-15) scored five runs on two hits to go up 6-2, but Eastside would chip away at that lead by scoring runs in the final three innings. "I thought after we got six runs, I was hoping that would be enough, but I told them the ballgame wasn't over, you better start playing, that there was a long way to go," Bears coach Gary Buel said.

"Sure enough, one run there, two runs there, and it's over. We had a pretty good year though."

After giving up two runs in his first inning on the mound after replacing starter Brian Moore, Eastside's Matt Booker (5-6) pitched three scoreless innings to settle things for the Rams (16-8).

Ryan Edwards then came in for the final inning to pick up the save.

Central's Patrick Ryan (6-5) took the loss despite striking out eight batters. -- BRIAN McLAUGHLIN

3A-2: Crystal River loses

ALACHUA -- The book on Santa Fe was that its strengths were pitching and defense.

You can throw hitting in there, too.

Against a Crystal River team that had an ERA of 0.92, the fourth-ranked Raiders slugged three home runs and finished with 15 hits in a 16-7 win. "We had a good night at the plate," Santa Fe assistant coach John Pricher said. "When we had strikes, we hit it."

Santa Fe (29-2) struck early and often.

In the first inning, the Raiders touched Crystal River starter Clayton Trenary (10-1) for four runs as Al Peterson and Alan Bontya hit homers. They scored five more runs in the second inning on three hits and a Crystal River error to take a 9-2 lead. "We've got to learn to swim with the big fish," Crystal River coach Brent Hall said. "We have to take these things and learn from them."

Crystal River (25-6) did not give up, though. The Pirates hit Santa Fe starter Pat Thompson (11-0) well, scoring two runs in the second and two more in the third. But it wasn't enough because after every Pirates rally, Santa Fe came up with one of its own.

Scott Miller went 1-for-3 and drove in three runs to pace Crystal River. Kevin Bradley, a senior playing in his last game, went 1-for-3 and crushed a two-run homer in the fifth.

All but one Santa Fe starter had at least one hit. Three players -- Dewayne Carver, Kyle Cole and Noah Roberts -- had three hits apiece. -- KEITH NIEBUHR

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