Blair spins 3-hitter, as North Marion trims Springstead, 4-1

Springstead pitcher Jack Jasiak is greeted by catcher Jake Rice between innings during Wednesday night’s 6A-II quarterfinals against  North Marion. Due to a pitching commitment with the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater on Sunday, Jasiak departed after unfurling 44 pitches in a four-inning no-hitter. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO
Springstead High’s Jake “McDouble” Miller watches his deep fly ball that clanked off the left-field fence resulting in a double against North Marion. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO
Springstead second baseman Lou Rodriguez battled the sun to haul in a pop fly early in the game with North Marion. After the Eagles handled the game’s initial 17 chances, SHS committed a game-high five errors over the last three innings to permit four unearned runs. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO


Colts’ right-hander

fans 11 to earn

rematch with DHS


SPRING HILL – After one-and-done quarterfinal performances in 2017-18, North Marion advanced to the Class 6A, Region II semifinals by eliminating F.W. Springstead Wednesday night, 4-1.

The Colts (17-11), in the regional playoffs for a ninth straight season under 15th-year skipper Dale Hall, rode senior right-hander Jake Blair’s 3-hitter to topple the host Eagles (22-5).

With Dunnellon (22-5) eliminating Belleview (12-15) on Wednesday, 4-2, the Tigers will journey to Citra on Friday night for the regional semifinal.

Friday serves as third meeting between the two Marion County clubs as the Tigers conquered the Colts twice this season: 3-2 and 10-9.

Scoreless early

Jack Jasiak

Springstead senior Jack Jasiak, the University of South Florida signee, was locked in an early pitcher’s duel with Blair.

Jasiak, who entered with 108 strikeouts against five walks across 58 innings, departed after a four-inning no-hitter.

Through four frames, Jasiak unfurled 44 pitches recording zero walks while punching out five Colts.

Jasiak was lifted due to a pitching commitment with the Philadelphia Phillies organization on Sunday in Clearwater.

Breaking through

The visitors snapped the scoreless tie with four runs – all unearned – over the last three innings against SHS senior reliever Steven Fitzgerald (8-2).

North Marion broke the game’s seal with a run in the fifth.

After the SHS defense had converted its initial 17 chances the Eagles committed three miscues in the fifth.

Cameron Martinez opened the frame with a grounder to shortstop Ivan Ortiz, who skipped the throw to first base for an error.

Next, Fitzgerald attempted to pickoff courtesy runner Elias Garcia, but bounced the ball past first baseman Jiovel Lantigua.

With one out Blair grounded sharply to Ortiz, who whistled a throw well past Lantigua for another error permitting, Garcia to score, 1-0.

In the sixth, the visitors doubled the lead.

Gavin Miller grounded meekly to second sacker Louis Rodriguez, who booted the ball.

Gavin Olson was plunked by a pitch before both runners advanced on stolen bases.

With one out, Martinez’ sacrifice fly to right field plated Miller, 2-0.

Jake Miller

Springstead, which was handcuffed by the breaking ball specialist Blair to a two-bagger by junior Jake “McDouble” Miller – his county- leading 11th of the season – through five innings, cut the lead in half in the bottom of the sixth.

Rodriguez led off the inning parachuting a single down the right field line.

Senior Jason Bienstock legged out a bunt single.

Jasiak followed with a sacrifice bunt advancing runners to second and third.

With the tying runs in scoring position and first base open, Hall intentionally walked Hernando County’s leading hitter, Lantigua at .422.

Jake Rice

Senior catcher Jake Rice lined into a fielder’s choice allowing Rodriguez to score, 2-1.

With runners at the corners and two outs, Blair enticed junior Joey Hopper into a fielder’s choice to end the threat.

NMHS tacked on two runs in the seventh.

Louis Nolan led off with a double to right-center.

Blair’s sharp grounder to Ortiz was airmailed past first base for Springstead’s game-high fifth error of the night.

As Nolan scored, courtesy runner Dan Salguera stood at the second.

Noah Lukas followed with an RBI single to left to plate Salguera, 4-1.

Blair issued his second walk of the game with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to Max O’Rourke before Rodriguez fanned to end the game.

Blair finished with a game-high 11 punchouts to improve to 6-2.

Post-game chatter

“I’ve been really working hard on commanding my breaking pitches,” explained the 18-year-old Blair. “I thought my stuff was really on tonight.”

In facing Springstead, “I never felt any pressure tonight,” noted Blair. “Springstead’s a great team; they wouldn’t have gotten this far if they weren’t.”

On facing archrival Dunnellon Friday, “(Wyatt) Campbell will get the ball. For us to win, we have to play defense and continue to hit the ball.”

Coaches’ corner

Hall began his analysis by initially praising Jasiak.

“The Springstead starter (Jasiak) was as good as advertised. He did a fantastic job. He’s got an A-plus, fastball and slider.”

But Hall was quick to defend his pitcher.

“But Blair also pitched a great game,” noted Hall, who has eight district championships and one Final Four berth under his belt. “He filled the zone and had everything working. He did a great job of keeping them off-balance.”

On his team’s pre-game approach, “I told the guys, there would be some adversity and we had to work through it.”

Shawn Laferty

From the home dugout, fifth-year SHS skipper Shawn Laferty didn’t destroy any water coolers, he simply tipped his cap at NMS.

“Look, it wasn’t like Fitzgerald threw poorly. We made some mistakes,” he said.

On Blair’s efforts, “Their pitcher mixed things up well, but we helped him swinging at some poor pitches.”

On the game’s silver lining, “It’s been a good year,” emphasized Laferty. “We didn’t win the county, but we won districts. That’s big at Springstead. I have to thank the senior leadership for getting us this far. It’s time for them to start their new lives.”

2019 “Road to the Show”

Class 6A, District 6 Baseball Tournament

05-07 Quarterfinals:

@ Lecanto

Citrus 6, Lecanto 5

@ Crystal River

Crystal River 1, Weeki Wachee 0 (9)

05-08 Semifinals:

@ Spring Hill

Springstead 14, Citrus 0 (4.5 Innings)

@ Dunnellon

Dunnellon 9, Crystal River 4

05-10 Championship:

@ Spring Hill

Springstead 9, Dunnellon 4

05-15: Class 6A, Region II Quarterfinals

@ Spring Hill

Citra-North-Marion 4, Springstead 1

@ Belleview

Dunnellon 4, Belleview 2

05-17: Class 6A, Region II Semifinals

@ Citra

Dunnellon vs. North Marion, 7 p.m.

North Marion 4, Springstead 1













































NM – Blair and Martinez.

SPG – Jasiak, Fitzgerald (5) and Rice.

W – Blair (6-2). L – Fitzgerald (8-2).

2B – NM: Nolan. SPG: Miller

Records – North Marion (17-11 overall), Springstead (22-5 overall).

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