Strawberry Crest senior beats Plant City on mound and basepaths
By Bob Bellone
Senior Staff Writer
DOVER – Strawberry Crest right-hander Colby Fanning watched helplessly as his late bid for a no-hitter slipped away Monday night, but the senior finished off a 4-0 shutout of backyard rival Plant City en route to the Saladino Gold Division Tournament semifinals.
Colin Schultz burst his bubble with a leadoff single through the left side in the seventh inning.
“It was so disappointing,” said Fanning, who outscored the Raiders with two runs of his own. “I wanted to finish it out. It felt like it would have been great, but it is what it is.”
Playing the role of visitors on their own field by virtue of a coin toss, the Chargers scored more than enough with two unearned runs in the top of the first. Leading off, Fanning reached on an infield error and advanced to third on a Cristian Bolt bunt and a single by Arjun Nimmala. Both runners crossed the plate after Nimmala stole second and the ball found its way into center field.
RELATED: Durant freshman Blaine Rowland spun five shutout innings of relief, as Dean Hotz’s four-RBI night pushed the Cougars to a win over Lennard. Click here to read about how thing shook out for the Cougars – Strawberry Crest’s semifinal opponent on Tuesday.
Fanning circled the bases again in the third, leading off with a double and coming around on a pair of groundouts. The Chargers made it 4-0 in the fifth, when Bolt tripled with one out and Nimmala delivered him on a sacrifice fly.
— Strawberry Crest HS Baseball (@baseball_crest) March 16, 2021
Plant City (7-4) threatened to become the first district rival in five games this season to produce a run against Strawberry Crest (10-1), including an 11-0 romp at Plant City on March 4. Jace Stines was 90 feet away after a three-base error in the third, but Fanning extended the scoreless string on a groundout.
“They’re a good team,” Chargers coach Eric Beattie said. “Our arms, both times we’ve played them, have made their pitches, have pitched very good games. We still have a lot of respect for them and what they can do offensively.”
Plant City coach Michael Fryrear had high praise for the victors, heading into a 7 p.m. Tuesday showdown at crosstown rival Durant.
“This is one of the best Crest teams I’ve seen in a long, long time,” he said, “and I’ve seen some really good ones.”
– Bob Bellone, with a half-century of experience in sports reporting, is in his fourth year with 813Preps.com.
Strawberry Crest 4
Plant City 0
SC 201|010|0 – |4|8|1
PC 000|000|0 – |0|1|1
W – Fanning (3-0); L – Rogers (2-2).
2B – Fanning, Hancovsky (SC); 3B – Pues, Bolt (SC). Records – SC (10-1); PC (7-4).