Berkeley Prep can’t overcome big inning in region loss

Buccaneers Senior Andrew DiMisa walks off the field after Berkeley Prep fell to The First Academy in the 3A-Region 2 final on Wednesday.

By Mike Camunas
Creative Director

TAMPA — There’s no denying that, put simply, this is how the game works.

“Only one team gets to lose their last game, right?” asked Berkeley Prep coach Richie Warren, following the conclusion of his Buccaneers hosting the Class 3A region final Wednesday evening.

Unfortunately, it was the Bucs (24-5) on the losing side of this one, as they fell 7-1 to Orlando The First Academy, never being able to recuperate from a devastating seven-run, sixth inning the Royals (29-1) dropped on them.

“One bad inning … all of the playoffs — it cost us,” Warren said. “We thought if we could hang around and keep it close and get (their starter) out of the game, we’d have a chance, we just never got to that point.

“We had an idea what they were going to do, and I don’t know if it was the moment that got to us, but we’ll work on that because our guys have been so good for us and they gave it their all when it mattered.”

Berkeley was cruising behind starter J.T. Quinn, who would throw 77 pitches over five innings, strike out six, give up two hits and a walk, all of which would keep the Bucs in the game vs. Royals ace. Issac Sewell, an undefeated junior southpaw, would pick up his 14th win this season by throwing 95 pitches over six innings and also struck out six.

Berkeley Prep junior JT Quinn held The First Academy to just two hits in five innings on the mound.

And while the Bucs did pick up six hits against Sewell, they were never able to drop a big inning on him or capitalize on baserunners, leaving seven of them on base in the game.

“Give credit to Sewell, he shut us down,” senior pitcher Will Parkinson said, holding back emotions, “but that doesn’t take away from our season and I couldn’t be more proud of our guys. We did a great job fighting, and J.T. did a hell of a job fighting and I’m just incredibly proud of these guys.”

The game would remain scoreless until the sixth when Quinn was relieved in lieu of Evan Parmer and Parkinson, both of whom would be credited with giving up six of the seven runs while only being able to record one out combined. Miscues on defense and a throwing error on a sac bunt by Parmer would keep the inning alive until Owen McElftrick would come in to get the final two outs in the sixth, but not before letting TFA push across three more runs with a hit batter and a bases-loaded walk.

“Maybe we came out a little flat, but that’s baseball, right?” senior third baseman Johnathan Bruno said. “Any team can win on any night.”

Berkeley Prep senior third baseman Johnathan Bruno throws across the diamond.

Berekely’s lone run would come in the bottom of the seventh as the Bucs were able to get some production, finally off reliever Ben Barrett, who, despite striking out the side to the end the game, still threw two wild pitches and gave up an RBI double to Anthony Castillo, which scored Knox Meier.

“We just couldn’t cover a couple of bunts and the next thing you know,” Warren said, ” we couldn’t find the strike zone and that (sixth) inning got away from us.”

Bucs junior Anthony Castillo drove in his teams only run in the seventh inning.

For Warren, his heart goes out to the seven seniors he’ll see depart, especially since they missed out on the state tournament in two-straight seasons thanks to, in part, COVID-19 last season.

“(Guys like) Bruno have carried themselves so well on the field and on campus,” Warren added, “and those guys will be missed, but they’ve set a perfect example of what it means to be leadership. Other guys will have to step up. Guys like (shortstop) Cade (Kurland) and others who will have to take the charge.

“But you can never replace anyone.”

Parkinson, who will play at Columbia University next season, walks away with a lifetime of memories.

“It was a special time here,” Parkinson said. “I’ve been playing with some of these guys since I was nine years old, so seeing them come together as a family, just last year and this year, I’m going to be sad to see them go. We built a family in this program. I just couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Berkeley Prep senior pitcher Will Parkinson departs the mound at Carlson-Cone field one final time.

As for Bruno, it’s a bittersweet ending to his Buccaneers career, but it’s still one he’ll never forget.

“All the memories, all the people, you don’t ever forget them,” said Bruno, who is signed to play at George Washington University next year. “It’s tough — you live and you learn and the sun is going to rise tomorrow, and we’ll be all right.”

“I’m really proud of my guys for making it this far.”

Orlando The First Academy 7
Berkeley Prep 1

TFA 000|007|0 – |7|5|1
BP   000|000|1 – |1|7|2
W – Sewell (14-0); L – Parmer (5-2).
2B – Castillo (BP). Records – TFA (29-1); BP (24-5).