By PETE YOUNG
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 8, 2001
At this point Seminole must be wondering, how many times do we have to beat these guys?
One more time, it turns out. Seminole vs. Countryside, Round 4, for the Class 5A, Region 3 title, is at 7:30 tonight at Seminole.
After the first three rounds, it appeared this fight had been stopped due to the excessive beating Countryside was absorbing. However, the Cougars regrouped from a 13-1 district final spanking by the Warhawks to win 5-1 at Ridgewood and 2-1 at fabled Sarasota and earn a fourth shot at Seminole (19-10 with 10 forfeit losses), the nation's No. 1-ranked team.
"We know a lot about them, and they know a lot about us," Seminole coach Scott Miller said. "Yes, it's a little strange to be seeing the same team four times in the same year."
It's also an opportunity for redemption for Countryside's Mike White. Arguably the county's top pitcher the past two seasons, White (6-1) has one ugly blemish on his otherwise brilliant transcript this season, a 10-0 pasting by Seminole on March 6. The 6-foot-4, Florida State-bound left-hander has been exceptional otherwise and had 14 strikeouts in his last start, at Ridgewood.
"We've only seen him once, and that was a while back, so I don't remember him that well," Miller said. "But we expect he'll pitch well."
Countryside will get a final chance at solving Seminole's pitching. So far, the Cougars have flailed miserably.
In the March 6 meeting, Seminole starter John Killalea pitched a five-inning no-hitter. In their next game, a 4-0 Seminole win March 23, Warhawks starter T.J. Large (who will start today) pitched a one-hitter. And in the 13-1 district final, Killalea pitched a five-inning two-hitter.
For those keeping score, that's three Countryside hits in 17 innings against Seminole. Meanwhile, the Cougars have committed 10 errors while getting outscored 27-1. Ouch.
None of that will matter, however, if Countryside can pull off the upset tonight. The winner will face No. 5 Gonzalez Tate (27-5) or Panama City Bay (25-6) in a state semifinal May 18.
"Seminole and Countryside have always had a pretty good rivalry," said Miller, dismissing the idea that Seminole could be overconfident. "The winner is going to the state tournament. That should be enough motivation, I'd think."