BROOKSVILLE – Barring a regional home game, Central senior Trevor McKenna played his final game on the Bears’ home turf Tuesday night.
The lefty signed with Lake Sumter State College certainly made it count.
Facing fifth-seeded Nature Coast in a Class 5A, District 7 quarterfinal, he tossed a shutout and drove in a run to lift fourth-seeded Central to a 2-0 victory.
The Bears (17-9) moved on to play top-seeded Hernando in Wednesday’s semifinals at Zephyrhills, at 4:30 p.m.
“My last start here. It’s surreal, to be dead honest with you,” McKenna said. “Going to college next year and feeling real good.
“Changeup and curveball (were working), curveball actually came out. Me and my coach have been working on it in the bullpen the past few weeks and it finally came out. And first-pitch strikes.”
McKenna (8-4) was matched up with Nature Coast (11-13) right-hander Vito Tambasco, chosen ahead of Chris Lake, the Flagler signee who tossed a two-hit, 13-strikeout shutout against the Bears last month.
Tambasco pitched well enough, throwing four innings allowing two earned runs on three hits and four walks, striking out a pair. Lake threw the final two frames, striking out two.
“I didn’t want them to see Chris two times in a row. It was a shot in the dark and I took it and I live with the results,” Nature Coast head coach Mike Ellison said. “I’d have done it again. (Tambasco) and I talked a lot and he was ready.”
Tambasco, who also paced the Sharks with two hits, held the Bears hitless until one out in the third when Thomas Sorrentino singled.
With two away in the inning, McKenna helped his own cause at the plate, grounding a single through the hole into right to plate the game’s first run.
Catcher Hank Shiver legged out an infield single to start the bottom of the fourth. Courtesy runner Justin Rubeo eventually came around when Justin Chevalier hit a ground ball forcing the third baseman to dive to his left, leaving him only a play at first.
That was plenty for McKenna, who permitted five hits and two walks while striking out six over his seven innings.
No Nature Coast runner advanced past second base. McKenna gave up back-to-back singles to start the first and the fourth, yet worked out of trouble both times.
“Last year I wasn’t at the Springstead game when he threw his no-hitter because I had been ejected the game before, but that’s the best I’ve ever seen him throw,” Central head coach Al Sorrentino said.
“You could see his mechanics getting away from him a little bit and he started throwing high, but he was able to pull it together and get back in the strike zone, which is a big positive for him.”
“Everybody wants to win. We’re not happy we didn’t win, But that’s the way it goes,” Ellison said. “I think (McKenna) struggled a little bit. A lot of his pitches were up high and we were just swinging. We were just chasing everything. But he’s a quality pitcher. He makes a pitch when he needs to.”
With McKenna out of the pitching equation going forward through the district tournament, Coach Sorrentino still believed the Bears could survive.
“We’ve got a deep pitching staff. I’m 10 guys deep,” Sorrentino said. “We’ve still got Thomas (Sorrentino); we got Dante (Hamilton). I got two freshmen with me that threw against Citrus last week and shut them down. I’ve got plenty of guys. If somebody can’t throw strikes tomorrow, they’ll be sitting next to me pretty quickly.”
Central 2, Nature Coast 0
123 456 7 R H E
NCT 000 000 0 - 0 5 2
CEN 001 100 X - 2 3 0
NCT - Tambasco, Lake (5) and Peloro.
CEN - McKenna and Shiver.
W - McKenna (8-4). L - Tambasco (0-6).
2B - none.
3B - none.
HR - none.
Records - Nature Coast (11-13), Central (17-9).