The 8-1-3 List: Week 7

1. Sickles (15-3) =

Sickles senior IF Michael Bynum.

The Gryphons took care of business last week to hold on to the top spot on our list for a second week in a row (the curse is broken!!!) by defeating three teams by a combined score of 21-1. Jordan Yost scored three in the 6-1 win against Jefferson; Brandon Gonzales had two hits and two RBI in an 8-0 win against Robinson; and Michael Bynum was 3-for-4 in 7-0 win over Riverview. Sickles pitchers held opponents to just 10 hits in 21 innings last week. The Gryphons will have to fight to hold the lead with three-straight days of baseball, visiting Plant on Wednesday, and welcome Freedom (Thurs) and Bloomingdale (Fri).

2. Jesuit (13-4)☝️2

Jesuit senior MIF Jacob Lozano.

The Tigers pitching staff posted two shutout wins last week, with Aden Knowles and Wilson Andersen holding Wiregrass Ranch to two hits and combining for 10 K’s, and McCall Biemiller and Kaden Waechter blanking Tampa Catholic, punching out 13. Senior Noah Sheffield continued to pace the offense going 6-for-8 with a run and RBI, and upping his season average to .511. Jesuit travels south to face MaxPreps’ No. 1-ranked Florida team IMG Academy on Tuesday, hosts Lakewood Ranch on Wednesday, and says “hello, (Naples) Newman” on Friday.

3. Durant (13-3)☝️3

Durant senior P/OF Chase Mobley.

The Cougars asserted east-county dominance last week, putting up a pair of 6-0 wins against Newsome and Plant City as Durant pitchers punched out 28 in 14 innings. Senior Chase Mobley’s three-run homer pushed the game out of reach against the Wolves, and he had two hits, an RBI and two hitless innings on the mound against the Raiders. Blaine Rowland K’d a dozen at Newsome and was 4-for-7 on the week. The Cougars visit Riverview on Tuesday, then welcomes Jefferson on Thursday and Tampa Bay Tech on Saturday.

4. Seffner Christian (14-2)☝️4

Seffner Christian senior Colin Patten.

Sickles isn’t the only team on an absolute TEAR at the moment, as Seffner Christian has also strung together eight-straight wins. Shhhh, secret time: Addy Scott is a M-E-N-A-C-E. The Crusaders senior has upped his national home run lead to 11, with dingers in four-straight games, and leads SCA with 22 hits. But right behind him are Garrett Morgan and Colin Patten with 21 hits apiece. The Crusaders only have one game this week – but it will be a test – as SCA travels to Tampa Catholic on Friday.

5. Gaither (12-5) ⭐

Gaither senior OF Josh Choe.

Senior Josh Choe’s walk-off, two-run home run helped Gaither get by Steinbrenner, 2-1 to start the week and the Cowboys had 10 hitters record at least one hit in a lopsided win against Middleton, where senior Kevin Brunet was 3-for-3 with two doubles and five RBI. Senior Nico Lopez stretched his hit-streak to eight games, and his team-leading batting average to .422 while going 5-for-7, with a double two runs and two RBI last week. Gaither hosts Blake in its lone game of the week on Tuesday.

6. Newsome (13-4) 👇4

Too many strikeouts doomed the Wolves in a 6-0 loss to Durant to start the week, but Newsome got back in the win column with a 15-3 win over East Bay. Senior Braden Moon hit his team-leading fourth homer, collecting three hits and four RBI against the Indians and is hitting .423 on the year. Wade Walton improved to 6-1 on the year, and held the Indians to one earned run in his three innings, and has a 0.96 ERA for the year. The Wolves host Lennard on Tuesday and visit Middleton on Thursday.

7. Plant (12-5)👇4

Panthers senior Garrett Hill has been superb in his last three starts, following up on last week’s Players of the Week mention with a complete-game, one-hit shutout out with nine K’s against Armwood, where a Connor Fulmino RBI sac fly gave Plant a 1-0 win. The much-needed win nipped a two-game skid for Plant, which lost a 4-2 decision to Steinbrenner to start the week. Plant has to tangle with No. 1-ranked Sickles at home on Tuesday, and visits Spoto (Fri) and Brandon (Sat) in a three-game week.

8. Tampa Catholic (11-5) 👇3

A split week for the Crusaders, which bested Indian Rocks Christian via mercy-rule, unloading with an 11-run top of the fifth with Charlie Parker leading the way with a 3-for-3, two-RBI game, and three shutout innings from senior Trevor West on the mound. TC had no answer for Jesuit pitching, dropping a 4-0 decision to the Tigers last Friday. Oh boy, the Crusaders have a TOUGH week ahead, with a three-game homestand against a streaking district foe Berkeley Prep (Tues), Top 25 state-ranked (MaxPreps) Naples Bishop Verot (Wed) and welcoming Seffner Christian on Friday.

9. Alonso (10-8) ⭐

We had a parent ask us last week, “how do you pick your rankings?” and the answer isn’t that complicated – stack wins. The Ravens have done just that, after having a three-game and two, two-game skids in the first half of the season, Alonso has now strung six wins in-a-row – including going 4-0 last week defeating Plant City, Blake, Leto and King. Freshman Yohan Cintron held King to just three hits in his four innings of work on Saturday, junior Samuel Fernandez had a double, homer and seven RBI on the week, and senior Daniel Despaine put up seven hits. Ravens hit the road this week with a visit to Alonso on Tuesday and Sumner on Thursday.

10. Strawberry Crest (11-6) ⭐

The Chargers have taken advantage of a favorable schedule with four-straight wins, including outscoring King, TBT, and East Bay by a combined 32-2 last week. Four pitchers, led by Chase Conti (W, 2ip) held Tech hitless in a five-inning win. Seven Chargers hitters have at least 13 hits this season, and Crest has a .336 team batting average. A visit from Robinson will be Crest’s only game of the week.

⭐: New to rankings this week; ☝️: Moved up; 👇: Moved down; = : Same as last week

Dropping out this week: Armwood (10-5); Bloomingdale (10-6); Jefferson (12-6).

8 Top Performers

1 Favorite Thing

We’re suckers for a rally. After one month of the season, a young Berkeley Prep (just three seniors) had taken some lumps while picking up just one win in its first 10 games. But the Buccaneers have found a groove – ripping off five-straight wins, including a no-hitter from Rivers Kurland (our Player of the Week) against Carrollwood Day, and a decisive district win against Brooks DeBartolo last week. Senior Julius Pfau has hit in six-straight, including going 4-for-6 last week, with a double, two runs and two RBI. The Buccaneers could have folded after the rough start, but they’ve shown impressive resilience. That mettle will be tested with A BIG week ahead. The Bucs have two shots at redemption this week, first hosting Tampa Catholic (the Crusaders winning a March 3rd game 7-1) on Tuesday, and visiting Tampa Prep (winners 7-6 in the season opener against the Bucs), and then cap the week with a non-district home game against Steinbrenner on Friday.

3 Games to Watch this week

#1 Sickles (15-3) at #7 Plant (12-5), Tuesday: This will be the only meeting between the Gryphons and Panthers this season, as the two 2023 state finalists (Sickles won the 6A title last year; Plant was the 7A runner-up) are lined up for Tuesday. Plant has won eight of its last 10, while Sickles has won its last eight games. Last year’s game was an 8-6 battle with the Gryphons coming out on top and this year’s game should be just as good.

#2 Jesuit (12-4) at IMG Academy (16-2), Tuesday: Iron may sharpen iron, but it is forged in fire at the Tigers schedule always prepares Jesuit for a deep postseason run. This week will be no different – and starts off with a banger in the first of a split, home-and-away against top-ranked IMG Academy. Opposing teams have had fits with the Ascenders offense, which has 10 players with double-digit hits, eight with double-digit RBI, and nine with at least 10 runs scored.

#4 Seffner Christian (14-2) at #8 Tampa Catholic (11-5), Friday: The last two seasons have seen TC get the better of Seffner Christian with narrow victories: 2-1 (2023) and 3-1 (2022). SCA has been on fire over the last month-plus, while Tampa Catholic saw its five-win run end on Friday against Jesuit, but is 3-0 against Class 2A opponents this season. Can the Crusaders in green make it three wins in as many seasons to close out a difficult three-game week? Or will the maroon Crusaders, led by slugger Addy Scott, pick up a marquee, regular season win on the road?