By JOHN C. COTEY, SCOTT PURKS and MIKE READLING
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 18, 2001
"I'm not going to sit here and argue. But if it's true, then I guess they just got beat by a second-rate pitcher."
-- ROBERT VALIENTE, Tampa Catholic pitcher on Orlando Bishop Moore's claims that it has seen better pitchers and had it played to its ability, it would have won Thursday's Class 3A finalTHURSDAY'S HEROES
Tampa Catholic: From James O'Donoghue's clutch hits to Dennard Span's three RBI and insurance run single in the seventh to Wes Hiller's diving catch in leftfield in the sixth to Chad Leon's snag of a liner in the seventh to Josh Shirk's rally-sparking bunt single in the first to Tony Moscato's leadoff hits in the first and last innings to Mark Centofante's fine work behind the plate, the Crusaders gave the crowd of more than 2,500 something to cheer about.
Robert Valiente, Tampa Catholic: Oops, did we forget him? Of course not. The senior made his first start in two months and scattered seven hits in the complete-game win.
Justin Poole, Tallahassee Godby: The senior right-hander needed only 66 pitches -- 48 of them strikes -- to lead the Cougars to the Class 4A state championship. Poole struck out only one batter but didn't walk a batter.
All of the years Tampa Catholic has won state titles, second most in state history behind Key West
5. Alan Swanson. The junior turned himself into the TC version of the Incredible Hulk -- without the muscles. Swanson painted his arms, neck, legs -- anything visible -- bright green, including his hair
4. Mike Sturm. He doesn't know why, but somebody handed him a tea bag to wave when Tony Moscato came to the plate. So he did. But the green-painted senior got thirsty during the at-bat. So he put the tea bag in his mouth and squirted water from a squeeze bottle in while his friends chanted, "Brew! Brew! Brew!" and pumped their fists.
3. Mike Thompson. The sophomore took a different approach and went with a white base with a green "TC" on top. For good measure, he also put a shirt sleeve around his head. We don't know why.
2. Catherine MacMillan. Always ready for a fight, the sophomore showed up in camoflage pants to show she was "ready to go to war for these guys."
1. Gary Garcia and Ron Achille. Garcia calls himself "Garbanzo." Achille calls himself "Beans." Together, they're a Mexican version of the Crusaders' biggest fans, complete with mariachi hat. The capes were cool, too.
TICKETS: $6 per two-game session and available at the gate. Parking is $2.