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Bears let Eastside wiggle off hook

By BRANT JAMES

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 4, 2001


GAINESVILLE -- It can make a coach smile with resignation or want to resign.

The annoyingly ironic side of baseball reared itself to Central's Gary Buel in a Class 4A, Region 2 quarterfinal Tuesday, and it ended the Bears' season.

Central had struggled to score runs all spring, but it took a 6-2 lead on Gainesville Eastside with a five-run third inning. With ace Patrick Ryan on the mound, the Bears figured to be boarding a bus today to face Seabreeze in a semifinal, but Eastside scored in every inning thereafter to win 7-6.

"We score five runs and I'm thinking, "Finally, we're scoring a little bit, and this is probably going to be enough,' " Buel said. "And I knew the players were thinking that, too.

"I pulled them aside and told them they couldn't stop, that there was a long way to go, but we couldn't hold on," the coach said.

Eastside (15-8) recorded the decisive run in the sixth inning when Anthony Anderson scored from third base on a Will Clapp single. Anderson had reached on a strikeout/wild pitch, stole second, then took third base on another wild pitch.

Central had relied on Ryan all season, and his right arm may finally have showed the wear, Buel said. Ryan, who entered with a 6-4 record and 1.18 earned-run average in 83 innings, had worked 10 innings (136 pitches) last Wednesday in an 11-inning, 3-2 win over Lecanto in a District 6 semifinal. Ryan's problems against Gainesville Eastside manifested themselves early, as he hit the leadoff batter and threw five wild pitches. His out-pitch curveball never materialized.

"Patrick pitched his heart out, but I think the 10 innings took it out of him," Buel said. "He's thrown that many pitches before, but it has been a long year.

"He wasn't real sharp, but he gave us a chance to win."

Central loses four senior starters from its 14-16 team: Ryan, left fielder and leading hitter (.342) John Sirvent, third baseman Rich Lisi and center fielder David Egan.

Buel is hoping the introduction of underclassmen such as shortstop D.J. Anderson and catcher Nick Paolella -- after Jerad Brotherwood transferred to Hernando -- will off-set that loss next season.

"The kids we brought up saw some action," Buel said. "That's good because the intensity is so much greater at the varsity level, and the experience they got in the district tournament should help us eventually."

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