District play begins for five county diamond squads

BASEBALL

District play begins for five county diamond squads

By TONY CASTRO

HernandoSport.com

The initial step of the FHSAA baseball state series begins Tuesday for Hernando County’s five public school programs.

The only private school – Brooksville’s Hernando Christian Academy – began post-season play in Class 2A, District 5 Monday at home on the Emerson Road campus.

The eighth-seeded Lions (11-10) blistered the ninth-seeded Clearwater-Lakeside Christian, 11-0.

On Tuesday night, they’ll travel to Lecanto’s Seven Rivers Christian to tackle the No. 1 seeded Warriors (18-4).

The menu

Brooksville-Central, Brooksville-Hernando and Brooksville-Nature Coast Technical will be participating in the seven-team Class 5A, District 7 Tournament beginning Tuesday.

5A-7 features: No. 1 seed Brooksville-Hernando (18-7 overall), No. 2 seed Wesley Chapel-Cypress Creek (16-8), No. 3 seed Brooksville-Nature Coast Technical (15-9), No. 4 Hudson-Fivay (7-15), No. 5 seed Hudson (5-16), No. 6 seed Brooksville-Central (3-21), No. 7 seed New Port Richey-Gulf (1-19).

The three-time defending district champion is NCT while Hernando is defending district runner-up.

Tuesday, May 7’s quarterfinals: Central at. NCT, 7 p.m., At Hudson High: Hudson vs. Fivay, 4 p.m.; and Gulf vs. Cypress Creek, 7 p.m.; Wednesday, May 8 semifinals: Central/NCT winner vs. Gulf/Cypress Creek winner, 4 p.m. Fivay/Hudson winner vs. Hernando, 7 p.m. Friday, May 10 final at 7 p.m.

Only the 5A-7 finalists advance to the Class 5A, Region II quarterfinals set for Wednesday, May 15.

The Class 6A, District 6 Baseball Tournament

features: No. 1 seed Spring Hill-Springstead (20-4 overall), No. 2 seed Dunnellon (20-4), No. 3 seed Crystal River (11-10), No. 4 seed Lecanto (10-15), No. 5 seed Inverness-Citrus (9-13) and No. 6 seed Weeki Wachee (10-14).

The defending champion is Dunnellon.

Springstead is the defending district runner-up.

Tuesday, May 7’s quarterfinals pits Citrus at Lecanto, 7 p.m. and Weeki Wachee at Crystal River, 7 p.m.

May 8’s semifinals feature Citrus/Lecanto winner at Springstead, 7 p.m. while WWHS/CRHS survivor travels to Dunnellon, 7 p.m.

Friday, May 10 final will be at the highest seed at 7 p.m.

Only the 6A-6 finalists advance to the Class 6A, Region II quarterfinals set for Wednesday, May 15.

Leopards hunting No. 15

The county’s oldest program. Hernando High, is seeking its 15th district (formerly called group) title.

The Purple and Gold last hoisted a district championship banner in 2014.

Online, HHS’ 24th-year skipper Tim Sims is touting this year’s Hernando County championship.

It was HHS’ first since 2015. The county crown is Hernando’s 12th over the past 22 seasons.

At 18-7, the Leopards arrive following a pair of 11th-hour losses to Bushnell-South Sumter in extra innings, 8-6, and Friday’s 10-4 setback to 18-6 Lakeland Senior High.

The losses did not did not particularly upset the veteran Leopard mentor.

Sims noted that a flu bug ravaged his team last week and neither Dylan DuPhily nor Preston Black played against 8A-11 Lakeland.

Hernando Head Coach Tim Sims. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

“Lakeland is an 8A school. They were a good test,” noted Sims. “They play at a different level. Though we didn’t win we still enjoyed our Senior Night.”

Sims, whose team enters the post-season averaging eight hits and eight runs per game, understands it’s a whole new game beginning Tuesday.

“Everyone is 0-0. What you did last week or a month a go doesn’t matter going forward,” said Sims. “What does matter is everyone getting on time to get on the bus and being focused when we get to Hudson.”

Over looking the district, “It’s a very competitive district. As far as crystal balling, I have no clue who will win. It seems everyone has had a hiccup or two at some time.”

Broc Valdez

HHS is led offensively by Broc Valdez (.408), Carson Lashley (.351) and DuPhily (.349).

On the bump, Lashley arrives 7-1 followed closely by Marrick Aske (6-2).

Carson Lashley

Asked for the keys to success this week for the Leopards, Sims replied, “Our pitchers must command the strike zone and we need situational hitting.”

The Leopards open play at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Hudson High against the survivor of Hudson/Fivay.

During the regular season, the Leopards bounced Hudson 10-0 and 9-2.

Against Fivay, HHS hasn’t lost since the first meeting at Emerson Field in 2011. Since then, the Leopards have bested the Falcons 12 times in 12 meetings.

Hornets: Perdomo gets the ball

Weeki Wachee enters the 6A-6 Tourney as the bottom seed.

But the Hornets arrive winners of three of its last four.

Most impressively, the US-19 club bested host Land O’ Lakes, 7-0, and toppled 18-win Seven Rivers Christian, 9-5.

For the Hornets to reach the district finals, they’ll have to solve host Crystal River on Tuesday and travel to and defeat host Dunnellon on Wednesday.

Patrick McHugh

“We’re playing well,” explained eighth-year WWHS mentor Patrick McHugh. “Ever since we played poorly defensively against Citrus, we’ve picked it up. It just seems like we’ve been in every game since.”

In confronting the Pirates for a third straight time, “We’ve dropped two one-run games,“ lamented McHugh. ‘‘They’ve had some timely hits fall when they needed. They’ve thrown the ball well as the game as gone on.”

Chris Perdomo

WWHS will counter with its ace, sophomore Chris Perdomo.

Perdomo enters 5-4 overall with a fine 2.28 ERA. He’s fanned 68 batters in 61.1 innings pitched against 14 walks.

Offensively, the Hornets who average nearly seven hits and 4.5 runs per game walk in hitting a collective .256.

Collin Greer

The Hornets are guided by juniors Collin Greer and Luciano Leo – both hitting .328 and sophomore Levi Haines at .318.

“Perdomo wanted another shot at Crystal River, that’s why he’s pitching,” expressed McHugh. “Offensively, our hitting has been clustered around Greer, Haines, Leo, Melendez and Hill.”

On predicting 6A-6, “It’s hard to go against Springstead and Dunnellon in the finals. Somebody will have to do something extraordinary to beat either of those two teams at their house.”

Eagles: Seeking redemption

It’s been almost a year since F.W. Springstead watched Dunnellon celebrate its district title in Spring Hill. It spoiled the Eagles’ chance at a district three-peat.

Since then the Eagles have handed the defending champions its lone district losses: 8-5 (8 innings) and 13-3.

Springstead arrives 20-4 and is seeking its school record fourth straight district finale.

Shawn Laferty

According to fifth-year skipper Shawn Laferty, SHS’ recent 3-2 loss to Hernando may help them in the long run.

“That game could have gone either way,” shared Laferty. “Maybe that loss helped us beat another good team (Sunlake) on Jiovel’s walkoff (homer).”

Laferty isn’t taking a chance on saving his ace for the unknown.

Jack Jasiak

Senior right-hander Jack Jasiak – who is signed to play D-I at the University of South Florida – will get the ball no matter what for Wednesday’s semifinals.

Jasiak arrives 6-1 overall with 101 punchouts against five measly walks across 53.0 innings.

Offensively, the Mariner Boulevard crew enters averaging almost nine hits and eight runs per game.

Jasiak at .381 with 20 RBI is not the ring leader.

Jiovel Lantigua

Senior Jiovel Lantigua is pushing for the local “Triple Crown” leading the county in hitting (.403), homers (12) and RBI (37).

Lantigua, who ranks second in on-base percentage (.521), also leads in slugging percentage (.928).

Jake Rice

Seniors Jason Bienstock (.319) and Jake Rice (.300) and junior Jake Miller (.308) have helped bolster the attack.

The Eagles will face the survivor of Citrus/Lecanto.

The Spring Hill crew topped Lecanto twice, 6-2.

Against Citrus, SHS won 11-4, 5-4.

On what concerns Laferty the most, “You can’t control the physical errors,” he said. “But we can come in as mentally prepared as we can be. At this stage, it’s hard to overcome say three errors.

“But I’m more concerned making sure we do all the little things necessary to win games.”

As far as motivation, “Watching Dunnellon celebrate was enough for us. We’ve used that as motivation this year.”

AT A GLANCE

WHAT – Class 6A, District 6 Baseball Tournament.

WHO – Six teams in a single-elimination tournament featuring: No. 1 seed Spring Hill-Springstead (20-4 overall), No. 2 seed Dunnellon (20-4), No. 3 seed Crystal River (11-10)

No. 4 seed Lecanto (10-15), No. 5 seed Inverness-Citrus (9-13) and No. 6 seed Weeki Wachee (10-14), Defending champion is Dunnellon. Springstead is the defending district runner-up.

WHERE – Highest seed. Admission is $6.

WHEN – May 7 quarterfinals pits Citrus at Lecanto 7 p.m. and Weeki Wachee at Crystal River, 7 p.m; May 8 semifinals feature Citrus/Lecanto winner at Springstead, 7 p.m. while WWHS/CRHS survivor travels to Dunnellon, 7 p.m. Friday, May 10 final will be at the highest seed at 7 p.m.

AT STAKE – 6A-6 finalists advance to the Class 6A, Region II quarterfinals set for Wednesday, May 15.

AT A GLANCE

WHAT – Class 5A, District 7 Baseball Tournament.

Hudson Cobras

WHO – Seven teams in a single-elimination tournament featuring: No. 1 seed Brooksville-Hernando (18-7 overall), No. 2 seed Wesley Chapel-Cypress Creek (16-8), No. 3 seed Brooksville-Nature Coast Technical (15-9), No. 4 Hudson-Fivay (7-15), No. 5 seed Hudson (5-16), No. 6 seed Brooksville-Central (3-21), No. 7 seed New Port Richey-Gulf (1-19). Three-time defending district champion is NCT while Hernando is defending district runner-up.

WHERE – Hudson High, 14410 Cobra Way, Hudson.

WHEN – Tuesday, May 7 quarterfinals: Central at. NCT, 7 p.m., At Hudson: Hudson vs. Fivay, 4 p.m.; and Gulf vs. Cypress Creek, 7 p.m.; Wednesday, May 8 semifinals: Central/NCT winner vs. Gulf/Cypress Creek winner, 4 p.m. Fivay/Hudson winner vs. Hernando, 7 p.m. Friday, May 10 final at 7 p.m.

AT STAKE – 5A-7 finalists advance to the Class 5A, Region II quarterfinals set for Wednesday, May 15.

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