|Photo courtesy of Carrollwood Day athletics.|
By Bob Bellone
Special to 813Preps
TAMPA – Carrollwood Day right-hander Gabriel Partridge jubilantly thrust both arms into the rainy sky after his eighth strikeout finished off a four-hit shutout of Lakeland Christian in the Class 3A-Region 2 title game Tuesday night.
The 4-0 triumph extends a historic season into the program’s first-ever state final four next week in Fort Myers. The Patriots (24-3) have set school marks for victories while capturing their first district and region championships.
“Not too bad, huh?” said first-year coach Ken Akins, grinning. “We started the season with three steps, and we’ve conquered two of those three steps. This team can absolutely win a state title.”
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Partridge was interested only in celebrating the moment.
“It’s awesome. We’re going to state,” he said.
The senior ace also blanked the Vikings (19-11) during the regular season and beat them with his bat in the district final May 4, capping a seventh-inning rally with his first career game-winning hit.
CDS got the only run it would need Tuesday with a steal of home in the first inning. Rodrigo Montenegro reached on a leadoff walk off Griffin Ryan, advanced to third on a wild pitch and a Blake Hooker single, then scored on a double steal that drew a throw to second – a play the Patriots also executed to get a run in last week’s region semifinal win.
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The Patriots finished every turn at bat with runners stranded in scoring position, nine in all, but tacked on three runs before leaving the bases loaded in the sixth.
“We needed some insurance, and once we got it I just knew we got this game,” said Partridge, who will take an 11-0 record and microscopic ERA into the state semifinal.
Akins marvels at the resilience of his entire team.
“These kids just don’t know how to quit,” he said. “They do not know how to quit.”
Carrollwood Day 4, Lakeland Christian 0
LC 000 000 0 — | 0 | 4 | 1
CDS 100 003 x — | 4 | 7 | 0
W – Partridge (11-0). 2B – Hooker, Torres (CDS). Records – LC 19-11; CDS 24-3.