Lightning strikes twice: Bears advance to 5A-7 finals by caging Coyotes, 6-1


Sophomore Ryan Ebberup

hurls complete game 3-hitter

against Cypress Creek


For years, the best baseball player in the local Ebberup family tree was Mikey.

Mikey was skilled enough to play several positions and adroit enough to play them all competently.

Central’s Mike Ebberup, Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

Unfortunately, life interrupted Mikey’s senior campaign at Central High in 2016 and he could not duplicate his .325 batting average of 2015.

These days, Mikey’s younger sibling, Ryan, is carrying on his family’s prep baseball legacy.

Mikey started as a sophomore on the last Central High district championship team of 2015.

Ryan Ebberup

On Friday, Ryan, a sophomore, will start where ever veteran skipper Al Sorrentino needs his services the most.

On Tuesday in Brooksville, the 5-foot-6 Ebberup started behind the plate, catching 6-foot-4 curveball specialist Rashaad Boyce.

Besides playing flawlessly at the dish, Ebberup helped himself at the plate finishing 2-for-4 with a run scored and driving in a run.

When Boyce ran out of steam after 5.2 innings and 108 pitches, Ebberup pitched the final 1.1 innings of relief in the Bears’ epic upset over three-time defending champion Nature Coast Technical at Sharks Field, 10-4.

On Wednesday, Sorrentino handed Ebberup the ball.

Ebberup arrived for his fourth start of the season sporting unconventional numbers with a 1-5 overall mark and 5.05 earned run average.

But to his credit, he did have the potential to pitch effectively with 40 strikeouts across 28.0 innings pitched.

Eventually, Ebberup answered the call for the sixth-seeded Bears with a sterling personal-best effort.

He faced 25 batters across seven innings and scattered three singles. He issued one walk against five punchouts and one wild pitch pitching the Bears (5-21 overall) past second-seed Cypress Creek (17-10), 6-1.

With fourth-seeded Hudson-Fivay (9-15) upsetting top-seeded Hernando (18-8) in the nightcap, the Bears will now tangle with the Falcons at 7 p.m. Friday for the Class 5A, District 7 championship.

Instant offense

Following Tuesday night’s script, the Bears tallied four first-inning runs off starter Peyton Petry.

The uprising began innocently.

Trey Adler

Petry, a freshman, issued leadoff walks to Trey Adler and Boyce.

Rashaad Boyce

With one out, Ebberup, who began district play hitting .288, knifed an RBI single to right plating Adler, 1-0.

Junior catcher Locker Weissman walked to load the sacks.

Deven Ayala was struck by a pitch permitting Boyce to trot home, 2-0.

Senior Jimmy Russell, who began the week hitting .140 with one run batted in, followed with a key two-run single to left, 4-0.

The visitors added another run in the fourth.

Sophomore Nick Marsicano, who began the week hitting .061, coaxed a critical leadoff walk.

With one out, Boyce singled up the middle.

Justin Gay’s fielder’s choice pushed runners to the corners.

With two outs, Ebberup rose to the occasion with an RBI single to right plating Marsicano, 5-0.

The Wesley Chapel crew countered with an unearned in the bottom of the fourth, 5-1.

In the sixth, Adler opened the frame by coaxing a walk.

Boyce was struck by a pitch.

With one out, Ebberup’s fielder’s choice to first base plated Adler, 6-1.

Raj Latchana replaced Petry and hurled the final three innings.

The Bears finished with a game-high six hits – all singles.

Ebberup led the offense finishing 2-for-2, with one run scored and three runs batted in.

On the bump, he twirled his first-ever complete game to advance the Bears to the district title game.

Coaches’ corner

Ninth-year CHS mentor Al Sorrentino indicated the keys to Bears’ second straight win was solid starting pitching by Ebberup and sound defense.

After an error on the first batter of the game, the runner tested first-year catcher Weissman’s moxie behind the plate, but Locke through him out.

Al Sorrentino Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

Sorrentino revealed the putout resulted in the Coyotes not attempting another stolen base.

On Ebberup’s efforts, “Early on, he mixed his fastball and curveball. Later he found his slider and that was effective, too.

“Allowing just three singles, Ryan was obviously in command. Defensively, our fielding percentage has improved dramatically since the second Nature Coast game,” noted Sorrentino. “If any high school team can limit itself to 1-2 errors a game, it’s giving itself a chance to win some games.

“… Our catching, with Ebberup and Weissman back there has gotten a lot better. That, in turn, has helped stabilize our defense.”

On the team’s early run production, “We’re a young team. When our guys make something happen early, it tends to make them relax. I think it was big to score early in both district games,” shared Sorrentino. “For a young team, scoring early has really helped us.”

On whether there was a carryover effect from Tuesday, “There was some,” replied Sorrentino. “But baseball is a game of confidence. Tuesday’s game helped us gain some. We’ve stressed to our guys that we’ve been playing much better over the second half of the season.

“…Before we walked into districts I wanted us to be the team that nobody wanted to play.”

On confronting Fivay, the Falcons bested the Bears twice this season: 4-1 and 8-1.

But Falcons utilized its two top pitchers to survive Tuesday and Wednesday.

“From my prospective, I feel good about any of the four guys we have available to pitch. We just have to stay away from that one bad inning syndrome.”

Sorrentino has been impressed even by his role players.

Take Soren Corbin.

Soren Corbin

“Corbin is a 5-foot-2 second baseman. He doesn’t look like much, but he had three assists and putout against Cypress Creek. When we change pitchers, we have to juggle the pieces (of the defense) to make everything fit,” said Sorrentino.

“…To compete on Friday, we stress the same thing we did when we last won districts: throwing strikes and playing defense. If we do that, we’ll see what happens.”

2019 Class 5A, District 7 Baseball Tournament

05-07: Quarterfinals

@ Nature Coast Technical

Central 10. NCT 4

@ Hudson

Fivay 7, Hudson 6

Cypress Creek 7, Gulf 0

05-08: Semifinals

@ Hudson

Central 6, Cypress Creek 1

Fivay 5, Hernando 1

05-10: Championship

@ Hudson

Central vs. Fivay, 7 p.m.

Central 6,

Cypress Creek 1















































CEN – Ebberup and Weissman.

CC – Petry, Raj Latchana (5) and Camacho.

W – Ebberup (2-5). L – Petry (0-2).

Records – Central (2-0 tourney, 5-21 overall), Cypress Creek (1-1 tourney, 17-9 overall),

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