The 813 dominates in Rays’ Hillsborough-Pinellas Senior All-Star Classic
Freedom’s Gio Mendoza connects on a three-run home run in the 162 Landing at Tropicana Field starting off a 15-hit onslaught from the Hillsborough squad.
By Jarrett Guthrie, Editor
ST. PETERSBURG – Freedom’s Gio Mendoza stepped to the plate hunting for fastball in Monday’s Rays’ Hillsborough-Pinellas Senior All-Star Classic, and he didn’t have to wait long. The Patriots veteran backstop turned on a first-pitch heater from Hollins’ Ryland Bozenhard and deposited into the famed 162 Landing, driving in the first three runs as Hillsborough pounded out 15 hits to defeat Pinellas 12-3 from Tropicana Field.
“That was a great feeling and I was glad to get it going for us,” Mendoza said. “I was sitting fastball and I got one first pitch, middle-in and took a hack at it.
“Rounding the bases, it didn’t feel real. It didn’t hit me until I got back into the dugout.”
Hillsborough would add two more an inning later as hits from Tampa Catholic’s Rolando Jimenez and Newsome’s Luke Peterson set up RBI singles from TC’s Maddox King and Sickles Connor Vance (two hits, two stolen bases, two runs scored).
Pinellas scratched out a run in the second as Calvary Christian’s Blake Opie singled, stole second and on a pair of bad throws scored his team’s first run.
Calvary Christian’s Blake Opie makes sure the umpires see an errant throw go into the visiting dugout allowing him to score. Opie singled and stole second and scored Pinellas’ first run.
It looked like the home team might put up a big inning as Clearwater Central Catholic’s Gabe Wheeler followed with a single (he’d later add a double to his day at the plate), but Peterson made the defensive play of the game as the Newsome third baseman leapt for a snare and fired the ball to second base for a double play.
Newsome’s Luke Peterson makes a play on a ground ball. Peterson also hit a single and scored a run in the second inning.
Hillsborough kept piling on, as Jimenez caught Pinellas sleeping with a runner on third base as he drew a walk and instantly rounded the bag toward second drawing a throw and allowing Alonso’s Christopher Morgan to rush home.
“Tampa Catholic – that’s kind of how we play,” Jimenez, who scored a few pitches later on a wild pitch, said. “We’re scrappy. We like to pull tricks out of the book. That play was something we’ve practiced and it’s something that definitely can get in the other team’s heads and shake them.”
Tampa Catholic’s Rolando Jimenez gets ready to dive home, scoring on a wild pitch.
Armwood’s Antonio Rodriguez and Chamberlain’s Michael Wormack would smash RBI line drive doubles off the wall in left-center, and a trio of Jefferson Dragons would come through with six combined hits – including RBI singles for Joseph Fritz and Jayden Vazquez (along with a single from Alejandro Aguilar).
“It just felt good representing our ‘J’ (pointing at the Jefferson logo on his hat),” Vazquez said. “I just enjoyed the moment. We just hit, that’s what Hillsborough County does.”
Jefferson’s Jayden Vazquez had three hits including this RBI single in Hillsborough County’s win.
A seventh-inning error with two outs allowed Pinellas a pair of base runners and Northeast’s John Ingalls took advantage of the opportunity, driving a ball down the line in right for a two-run triple.
Northeast’s John Ingalls hustles to third base on his two-run triple.
All three Pinellas runs were unearned as the pitching staff from the 813 was dominant. Hillsborough got solid innings from all nine pitchers: Alonso’s BJ Rivera, TC’s Danny Lazaro, Plant City’s Adan Longoria and Zane Wright, Jefferson’s Alejandro Aguilar, Lennard’s Jack Mueller, Strawberry Crest’s Luke Richardson, Durant’s Gavin Florio and Lennard’s Carter Payne.