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Eagles' nine-run fifth clears path to regional final

Hernando Today correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: May 8, 2013 at 02:16 AM
SPRING HILL -

Springstead watched the Citrus defense unravel in the fifth inning as the Eagles sent 15 batters to the plate and tallied all nine of their runs to advance to the school's first-ever regional final with a 9-3 triumph on Tuesday.

The victory in this Class 6A, Region II semifinal marked host Springstead's (18-8) fourth of the season over the district-rival Hurricanes (14-15) and earned it a road game Friday versus Orlando-Edgewater, who beat undefeated Melbourne on Wednesday, 11-5.

Citrus led 1-0 before back-to-back infield errors kicked off the bottom of the fifth and helped jumpstart the Eagle onslaught.

Thirteen batters, five hits, four walks and one error later, and Springstead had all but clinched things with a 9-1 advantage.

“That's what we've been doing lately,” Springstead head coach Jim Diven said of his team's momentous inning. “We get behind a little bit but they know they can win no matter what part of the game it's in. It's difficult to get up for a game like this after beating Citrus three times.

“It's absolutely a big step for our program.”

Senior pitcher Ryan Nicoll relied on an error-free Springstead defense – and the nine-run inning – as he needed just one strikeout while surrendering eight hits, two walks and three earned runs for a complete-game win.

“We knew Citrus has good bats and was going to score a few runs,” Nicoll said. “We've seen every pitcher they have so we were pretty confident throughout the game that we were going to score. When it was 1-0, we knew to just stay in it and the bats would come through. It was just a matter of time and it worked out nicely.”

Junior starter Ben Wright employed his change-up to great effect early on as the 'Canes outhit Springstead, 4-2, while the junior right-hander fanned four and yielded two hits, no walks and a hit batter during the span.

Freshman left-hander Austin Bogart entered in relief for Wright in the fifth after the Eagles batted around and scored six.

A bunt single by junior Blake Laftery (2-for-2) and three bases-loaded walks added three more Springstead runs by the inning's end.

“(Wright's) a good pitcher, but we've seen him at least three times now so the kids can see him a little better,” said Diven, whose Eages defeated top-seeded Citrus 6-1 in the 6A-District 6 championship game after sweeping the teams' regular-season series. “I think he was getting tired.”

Laferty scored twice in the fifth for Springstead, and Nicoll (2-for-3), junior Danny Schonborn (two-run single) and junior left fielder Sean Nascimento each had a couple of RBIs. Just one of the Eagle runs was earned.

“It was a great ballgame until all that happened,” Citrus coach Brady Bogart said of the fifth inning. “That was our season, in a nutshell. Unfortunately, defense has been our nemesis all year.

“Offensively, I liked the way we competed,” added Bogart, whose 'Canes reached the regional finals last season.

Junior right fielder Brooks Brasher (2-for-4, double) scored Citrus' first run on a fourth-inning base hit to right by senior third baseman Tyler Beagan (2-for-3, 1 RBI). Springstead limited the potential damage with a 6-4-3 double play earlier in the inning.

Sophomore shortstop Robert Wilkinson drove in Beagan and fellow 'Cane sophomore Alex Barbee with a double to right-center for two more in the sixth.

Eagles senior first baseman Brandon Brosher reached base three times with a pair of walks and a first-inning single, and senior shortstop Nic Pasarela went 2-for-4 while also registering seven putouts.

Junior catcher Cody Bogart went 2-for-4 with a double for the 'Canes.

Class 6A, Region II recap

(Quarterfinals)

5/1

Springstead 13, Gainesville 3

Citrus 8, Ocala-Lake Weir 5

5/6

Melbourne 9, Daytona Beach-Seabreeze 2

Orlando-Edgewater 9, Palm Bay-Bayside 3

(Semifinals)

5/7

Springstead 9, Citrus 3

5/8

Edgewater 11, Melbourne 5

(Final)

5/10

Springstead at Edgewater, TBA

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