Baseball wins districts, advances to final 16

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photo by Bryson Turner

The varsity baseball team poses with the district championship trophy. They beat Lake Howell 13-3.

The varsity baseball team, once again, has won a district title has advanced to the regional semifinals for the fourth consecutive year.

The team played St. Cloud in their regional quarterfinal game on Tuesday, May 9. Pitchers Josh Allen, Chris Ragosta, and Austin Abbe, making his second postseason appearance, combined for nine strikeouts and two hits in a 4-3 victory in extra innings.

The winning run was scored when left fielder Vincent Phillips drew a walk with the bases loaded that brought home courtesy runner Trey Bradley.

The team won despite five errors in the game.

“It’s not matter of us ever not being confident, it’s just us focusing on ourselves,” head coach Matt Cleveland said. “So, if we play good baseball, we have a good chance to win, if we don’t, we won’t.”

The team beat Lake Howell 13-3 to win its fourth consecutive district title on Friday, May 5, after inclement weather prevented the game from being played the previous day.

The offense was led by center fielder Brian Ellis, who went 3-5 with three RBIs and his fourth triple of the season, and third baseman Cameron Alba, who got on base in all four of his plate appearances with two doubles, a single, and a walk.

Starting pitcher Bailey Wendel earned the win, pitching 4.1 innings and allowing six hits and three runs with two strikeouts. Abbe took the mound to finish the game, allowing only one hit, and striking out four in 1.2 innings of action.

The success is not new. After the past few seasons, district and regional playoffs are situations that most of the team is familiar with.

“There’s nothing like playoff ball,” Alba said. “The intensity of the games is fun.”

The team’s regular season ended at 17-8. Wendel, a member of last year’s state-runner-up team, saw this as an improvement.

“There were more ups and downs [last season].” Wendel said. “We’ve been fairly consistent this year, so I’m happy about that.”

With this stability, the entire team, including the new head coaching staff, seemed to expect a playoff return.

“It’s part of the reason why I came here,” Cleveland said. “I think the players expected it and it feels good, but we still have a lot of work to do.”

These expectations seemed to turn into confidence for designated hitter Riley Greene, who is in his second playoff trip.

“The team’s very confident actually,” Greene said. “I think we’ll be fine.”

Regardless of expectations, players like Wendel still emphasized on keeping a clear and humbled view of the experience.

“We’ve got to be level headed,” Wendel said. “We got to do all our jobs and stay humble.”

The team will play their regional semifinal game on Tuesday, May 16, at Celebration High School.

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