TAMPA – In its first two meetings against Gaither, the baseball team didn’t see much in the way of trouble.
But with a playoff spot on the line, the No. 1 seeded team dropped its chance to advance for the first time in program history and fell to the No. 4 Cowboys, 10-9 on April 24 in an eight inning slugfest filled with a combined 11 errors between both teams.
The team (17-8) broke out to an early five run lead in the second inning, thanks in part to five Gaither defensive errors in the inning. Gerald Bautista singled home Chase Turner to start the night. Then after Logan Lapace brought home a pair on a base hit with the bases loaded and no one out, Mikey McGuire plated another on a throwing error.
The Cowboys wouldn’t panic though, as they answered back with a five run inning of their own in the third to knot the game a five apiece.
In the fourth, with his team up by a run, sophomore Cole Gordon blasted a three-run homer off of Gaither’s Evan Gainey to extend the baseball team’s lead to four and give starter Chris Williams some cushion.
Still, the team couldn’t hold it as Gaither continued to chip away at the lead while the mistakes racked up.
On in relief of starter Chris Williams, Nick Sucarichi gave his squad a chance to hold on, but the defense couldn’t keep up. With a run already home and runners at second and third base, Sucarichi struck out Hayden Kelley and Matt Frey, however catcher Jesse Haney couldn’t recover the throws and watched both third strikes slip away to retie the game and put both aboard.
The fatal blow would be dealt in eighth when Gaither shortstop Oscar Mercado delivered a two out base hit. The FSU-signee stole second and third base and reached home plate on another pass ball by Haney to put his team up for good, completing the comeback.
“The one thing about these guys is they haven’t given up all year,” said Gaither coach Frank Permuy. “They really believe in each other. When you say ‘Team’, this is probably the closest we’ve had in years.”
Jeff Odom / Sports Editor