Tampa Prep junior Owen Fulton connects on a fifth-inning two run home run to tie the game. The Terrapins would win 5-4  over district opponent Tampa Catholic, while Fulton finished 2-for-3 in the win. 

By Jarrett Guthrie, editor

TAMPA – It was almost a shame for the dogfight that was Tuesday’s Class 4A-District 4 meeting between Tampa Catholic and Tampa Prep to have ended when a ball bounced off a Crusaders defender’s glove and allowed the Terrapins to score the 5-4, walk-off run from second base.

However, this isn’t to say that the win wasn’t hard-earned by Tampa Prep, as the two teams battled the whole way, each answering their opponents’ challenge over and again.

With the game tied at four, junior Lucas Harmon started off the home seventh picking out a 1-0 fastball and bashing it off the netting in right field. Harmon, who was 2-for-4 in the win, charged to third on a Charlie Vari ground ball to shortstop and just never stopped, scoring the deciding run – his second score of the game – as the ball deflected off the Crusaders defender.

“I was going all the way, and when I saw it get by him, I was just going to keep going,” Harmon said. “I was excited and wanted to win this game. When I stepped to the plate in that inning, I was looking to be aggressive and get on base, and I kept that going.”

Sophomore MJ Budnick got things going offensively in the second inning for the Crusaders, belting his first home run of the year to right-center putting Tampa Catholic on the board.

Crusaders sophomore MJ Budnick is chased home by his teammates after connecting on a solo home run in the second inning. 

Tampa Prep (5-7, 2-2 in Class 4A-4) answered in the home half with an RBI double by Ben Mensch.

Tampa Catholic (4-6, 2-3 in 4A-4) countered back, as Tony Watson showed off his speed cruising in with an RBI triple in the third, then scoring on a single from Kian Knutson (2-for-4).

Crusaders junior Tony Watson breaks out of the box
with an RBI triple in the third inning. 

The Terrapins cut the lead to a run in the fourth as Nico Apostoleres singled and eventually scored on a Crusaders’ error. Then Tampa Catholic pushed the lead back to two as a Terrapin error allowed Angelo Gonzalez to score in the fifth.

Tampa Prep finally and ultimately swung the momentum back in the home team’s direction when Owen Fulton picked up his second hit of the game, and just his third hit of the season, smashing a two-run home run to right to tie it up.

“I’ve been struggling at the plate so far,” Fulton said. “It was good to get going with the first one (home run of the season) and a breakthrough game.”

Terrapins catcher Charlie Vari gets prepped to make a tag at 
the plate after recieving a dart from Griffin Ravo in center.

The play of the game for the Terrapins though was on defense. With the game knotted in the top of the seventh, a Crusaders runner on third and one out, a pop fly found its way to centerfield and the waiting glove of Griffin Ravo, and the senior came up firing with a bullet to the plate, beating the charging runner by at least a step.

“That felt so good,” Ravo said. “I knew if he hit it to me, I had to go back on the ball and come through it. I was ready for it and I knew I had to make it happen.”

The Crusaders got a workhorse effort on the hill from starting pitcher Ryan Gonzalez, who allowed four runs (three earned) in six innings of work, striking out eight and earning a no decision.

Tampa Catholic starting pitcher Ryan Gonzalez
Tampa Prep senior Gilbert Marquis earned the win in relief. 

Terrapins senior Gilbert Marquis picked up the win on the mound, working the final three innings, allowing just two hits and one walk.

“The energy for us was through the roof,” Ravo said. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen that from us, and I hope that we continue to show up with that from here on out, because that’s what we’ll need to win games.”