East Lake downs Kowboys at state in 13 innings, 1-0
By Ken Jackson
The Osceola Kowboys needed to win two baseball games at Fort Myers’ JetBlue Park to claim the Class 7A state baseball championship.
They nearly played two games Friday night, but they did not reach the championship game.
It took 13 innings for Tarpon Springs East Lake to put away Osceola , 1-0, in what tied for the longest game in FHSAA Finals baseball history. The game lasted just shy of four hours.
Sawyer Worth, who led off the top of the 13th with a walk, scored on Ian Lisle’s sacrifice fly off Justin DeGrandis, who pitched five innings out of the bullpen in relief of starter Jake Grenus.
The game settled into a classic pitching duel between Grenus and East Lake (23-8) starter Brad Deppermann, who struck out 11 and gave up just three singles in 8 1/3 innings before being lifted for reliever Steven Plaskett in the ninth inning after Bay McIntosh singled and stole second to give the Kowboys a rare scoring opportunity.
Plaskett was every bit as good, pitching 4 2/3 innings of no-hit relief, striking out seven and walking two. The two combined to strike out 18 Kowboys. Osceola managed only three hits.
Scoring chances were at a premium. Gustavo Rios and DeGrandis hit back-to-back two-out singles in the fourth inning and moved up a base on a wild pitch, but Osceola (25-7) couldn’t get a two-out hit.
Andrew Monahan led off the top of the fifth with a double for East Lake and was bunted to third, but Osceola caught him in a rundown between third and home on a squeeze play to end that threat. With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Gustavo Rios hit a long fly ball to left that fell just short of JetBlue’s replica of the Green Monster. East Lake loaded the bases in the sixth, but couldn’t come through with two outs.
Osceola got runners to second base with one out in the ninth and with none out in the 10th, when leadoff hitter Bud Weismore walked and courtesy runner Hunter Moorman stole second, but they’d end the innings still standing there.
With one out in the 11th and East Lake runners on first and second, the Kowboys executed the hidden ball pickoff play to put out that fire.
The Eagles lost the state championship game Saturday to Hialeah American, 5-2. American beat Tallahassee Chiles, 7-1, in the semifinal round.