Chamberlain freshman DJ Johnson comes charging home on his two-run, inside-the-park home run in the fifth inning. Johnson also had a triple in the win.

By Jarrett Guthrie
TAMPA – Young and hungry, and fight for days, the Chamberlain Chiefs have worked hard in search of a first win on the season. The Chiefs have had steady offense at times this season, like posting eight runs earlier in a loss against Freedom. Or have had solid games that the team just couldn’t close out, like allowing three seventh-inning runs to Strawberry Crest in late February after holding the Chargers to just one run through the first six. Then there has been nice offensive nights recently against King (three runs) and Steinbrenner (four runs) but miscues on defense spoiled those chances.

Saturday morning before the Chiefs got on the bus to travel across town to face Tampa Bay Tech, pitcher Sherwin Johnson pulled head coach Jason Smith aside and laid out a plan, and was bent on pitching his best game of the season.

“I wasn’t going to accept anything other than seven (innings) today,” Johnson said. “I came out established my fastball and worked my curveball in. We talked about this one all week, we came in with a mindset as a team today, that we weren’t coming out of this week without a win. We were determined.”

Chamberlain senior Sherwin Johnson tossed a complete-game to earn his and the Chiefs first win of the season. Johnson allowed three runs on seven hits, while striking out seven.

Johnson lived up to his end of the deal, holding TBT to three runs on seven hits, in a complete-game effort, and striking out seven, while Chamberlain took advantage of opportunities given and came a way with a 10-3 win.

Johnson, a right-handed pitcher, has been tasked with some of Chamberlain’s toughest situations on the mound this year and Saturday’s complete-game effort was a well-earned first win for the senior and his team.

“Sherwin is a beast, literally he will throw as many pitches as we need him to in a game or in a week,” Smith said. “He came to me early this morning and said, ‘coach, I’ve got a game plan. This is what I’m doing.’”

“And he did that from start to finish today. He came in with the attitude that he was going to finish what he started and that is the mindset he always has for us.”

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Tampa Bay Tech (2-13) got on the board first as Malcolm Boyd (2-for-4, two runs) singled, stole a base and eventually scored on a Brandin Borkowski double to left.

But Chamberlain (1-16) responded in the second as Johnson singled to lead off the inning, was replaced by speed-up runner Luis Brito, who stole second and came around to score on a wild pitch. The Chiefs added three more in the fourth as the wheels started to come off the Titans pitching staff. Chamberlain had three batters hit-by-pitch in the frame, and got an RBI, bunt single by Kevin Casazza mixed in to take the lead it would need for the win.

In total TBT pitchers hit six batters and issued five walks, making things difficult on the offense.

Chamberlain sophomore 3B Brayden Moyer makes
a play on a bunt in the second inning.
Moyer had a big two-run double to ice
the Chiefs win in the seventh.

The Chiefs added a four-spot in the fifth as an error allowed a base runner to start things and freshman DJ Johnson sent a ball to centerfield where a dive attempt on defense allowed the ball to go toward the wall in the deepest part of the field and Johnson (who also had a triple in the win) motored around the bases for a two-run insider-the-park home run to support his older brother’s efforts on the mound.

“I had a two-strike approach and just made contact, then went to digging,” DJ Johnson said. “You got to run hard and run out everything, because you never know what’s going to happen out there.”

Christian Vergara singled in a pair in the home half of the fifth for the Titans, but Chamberlain added some late insurance in the seventh when Brayden Moyer doubled down the first base line driving in two more.

Sherwin Johnson issued just one walk across the final two innings to secure the win for his team.

Defensively, Chamberlain got some nice glove work from shortstop Brennan Hyde (who also scored three times in the win), while Tampa Bay Tech had a nice defensive inning in the sixth. On DJ Johnson’s triple to center the relay home caught a runner trying to score from first at the plate as catcher James Ewers made a nice catch on a throw and dove back to the plate to make the put-out.

Tampa Bay Tech senior catcher James Ewers applies a tag at the plate to stop Luis Brito from scoring in the sixth inning.

Then a play later, Titans pitcher Joe Lewis fielded a bunt in front of the mound and went home, where the Titans tagged out Johnson in a rundown and then stayed with the play getting an out as the batter tried to get greedy and move on to second during the pickle.

The Titans have a district meeting at Armwood on Tuesday, while Chamberlain faces district foe Hillsborough.