|Strawberry Crest sophomore Brent May was solid in relief keeping Buccholz off rhythm as the Chargers earned an 8A region quarterfinal win. (Photo by Will Turner)|
By Will Turner
DOVER – Strawberry Crest just keeps on rolling.
A 6-4 win against Gainesville Buchholz on Tuesday gave the Chargers their 11th win in their previous 13 games. The Class 8A-Region 1 quarterfinal victory would be Strawberry Crest’s first win in a regional tournament since 2016.
A hot start from the offense and stellar pitching down the stretch headlined the win.
The Chargers would put up a four-spot in the first, but not before Kade Manderscheid got out of a one-out jam in the top half by striking out two Bobcats to leave runners on the corners.
Damien Torres got the offense rolling with a grounder to short that was mishandled, allowing Joey Parrillo and Tanner Kelley to score. Ben Pues followed with a singl to center to score Ryan Dell, before Jacob Heath singled to score Torres. Nine men came to the plate in the opening frame as it looked like the Chargers had Buchholz starter Brooks Walton figured out.
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But Buchholz would come back with a four-run inning of its own in the third.
Manderscheid hit James Sapp with a pitch with the bases loaded, forcing a pitching change to Brent May. The Bobcats scored two on a fielders choice and an error.
Matt Moss then tied things up with a single through the 5-6 hole, scoring Sapp.
“If there was [uneasiness after Buchholz tied it], it was really short-lived,” said Strawberry Crest head coach Eric Beattie.
|Strawberry Crest shortstop Ryan Dell (Photo by Will Turner).|
And so was the tie ballgame.
Dell and Torres both notched singles to begin the frame. Pues would come through with his second RBI, scoring Dell on a single to left, giving the Chargers a 5-4 advantage.
“These guys stay in the game and grind,” Beattie said. “They came right back out and put pressure on them which was a huge team accomplishment.”
From there, May would be nearly untouchable. The sophomore struck out the side in the fourth, retiring all but one batter through the sixth inning.
“I took everything pitch-by-pitch after I came in and did my job with the bases loaded,” May said. “We had the bats going and the defense did well, and we did well tonight.”
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Dell notched an RBI single, his third knock of the game, scoring Parrillo in the fourth.
“I was really looking forward to things, my teammates have been doing a great job getting on and I was really just looking to drive a ball, score a few runs, and help my team out,” Dell said.
Dell scored twice in the affair, as did Parrillo. May would work 4 2/3 innings, striking out six in relief. He allowed two walks in the seventh, which forced Beattie to send Torres in to pick up the save with the tying run on base.
“May had great stuff tonight,” Beattie said. “He kept us in the game and really held them right where they were.”
The Chargers move onto next Tuesday’s regional semifinal hosting Wharton, which took down Ocala Forest, 8-1.
“Tonight feels good. I think the guys were a little nervous, we made some mistakes that we don’t normally make, but we played good enough to win. Our pitchers did a good job and really kept us in the game, our hitters brought the bats again, and we definitely executed some nice situational hitting,” Beattie said.
– Will Turner is a student at USF majoring in mass communications, with a focus in news and editorial journalism, and a minor in history. You can follow Will on Twitter:@TBTurner813