Sickles junior Dylan Eskew threw four scoreless innings on the mound and added a grand slam as the Gryphons defeated Riverview in 8A region quarterfinal play. (813Preps file photo)

By Mike Camunas
Special to 813Preps

TAMPA — Dylan Eskew knew it all along.

“It was one those, where you just felt it off the bat, you know?” Sickles’ junior ace said, referring to the grand slam he hit in the third inning of Tuesday evening’s Class 8A region quarterfinal. “That wasn’t even my first. My first ever (homer) was a grand slam.”

Thanks to Eskew’s four RBI and four scoreless innings as starting pitcher, the Gryphons (22-4) quickly dispatched Riverview (15-11) in just an hour-and-a-half game that ended 10-0, by mercy rule in five innings.

“It’s real good to get out of this game early,” Eskew added, “get home and get our arms some rest. … After every game, every win we’re just worrying about the next game and team.”

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Sickles coach Eric Luksis thought Tuesday would end up being a closer contest, but once Eskew knocked in four runs with an opposite field grand slam, it wasn’t long before the Gryphons were extending the program’s best season in school history.

“That was a really big hit,” Luksis said, “and he is the guy who has really gotten it done for us all year offensively. And he works on that, making sure he uses all the parts of the baseball field (when hitting).

“We were sitting at a 0-0 game in the third and we were thinking this might be a real nail biter and then we’re done in five.”

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Luksis added his team doesn’t go out set to mercy rule a team, but he’ll take the rest for his ace. Though he wishes Sickles’ relievers could have gotten in more work.

“It’s not a goal we had in mind,” he said, “but the real plan was to get Dylan out of there early, and if we got a lead, go to our bullpen because they need postseason reps. We’re going to need more than one guy on the mound this postseason.”