Seffner Christian rolls past Northside in 2A quarterfinal

Seffner Christian senior Joe Tomasello pitched a complete-game shutout, spurred on by a six-run first inning turned in by the Crusaders offense in Wednesday’s Class 2A-Region 2 quarterfinal win against St. Petersburg Northside Christian.

By Bob Bellone
Senior Staff Writer

SEFFNER – The Seffner Christian faithful had barely settled in for Wednesday’s Class 2A region quarterfinal matinee against Northside Christian when they were treated to something wondrously familiar: a 6-0 first-inning lead against the visitors from St. Petersburg.

The scoreboard looked exactly as it did three weeks ago when the host Crusaders saddled the Mustangs with an 8-2 regular-season loss. This time, Seffner Christian earned a 7-0 victory and a trip to Naples for a semifinal showdown with top-seeded Seacrest Country Day School (21-5) on Saturday.

As he did in the first meeting with Northside, senior right-hander Joe Tomasello went the distance for the victory. Taking the mound for the second inning Wednesday, a glance at the scoreboard took him back.

“It reminded me exactly of that day,” said Tomasello, who appreciated the offensive support again coming early and often. “It was great. We come out and get six runs, that’s crazy. We get that momentum boost, and it helps me pitch. That helps the defense play and nobody gets tired. There’s nothing else we could ask for. That’s perfect baseball right there.”

Seffner Christian (17-6-1) sent a dozen batters to the plate in the first with half of them scoring on the strength of eight hits, two errors and a walk. Despite the crooked number, the Crusaders kept their heads on straight.

“We were definitely laid back, but still keeping it on them,” said first baseman Shay Dean, also a left-handed pitcher and Saturday’s projected starter.

Seffner Christian junior first baseman Shay Dean. 

No one was laid back when Northside loaded the bases with none out in the top of the fourth, but Tomasello escaped with a strikeout and an inning-ending double play.

By the end, five Crusaders – C.J. Koenck, Jake Foster, Colin McNeal, Ethan Duncan and Kaden Kuracka – each contributed two singles to their 13-hit attack. Duncan finished with three RBI, and Dean drove in a pair with a double in the opening rally.

SCA made its deepest postseason run in school history last season, reaching the regional final. Coach Sal Giardina is one victory shy of a repeat without a single starting player from 2021.

“It’s been a phenomenal year for us,” he said. “It’s a compliment to how hard they worked throughout the summer last year to get where we are.”

Class 2A-Region 3 

Seffner Chr 7
St. Pete Northside Chr 0

NC 000|000|0 – |0|4|3
SC 600|010|x – |7|13|0
W – Tomasello; L – Cerrone
2B – Williamson (NC); Dean (SC). Records – NC (17-11); SC (17-6-1).