Tue. May 7, 2013 | John C. Cotey | Email
CLEARWATER — Nate Reed struck out the side in the fourth inning, then homered to tie the score and struck out the side again in the fifth.
For a second, the Calvary Christian ace looked invincible.
Then the sixth inning happened.
A one-out error started a string of very fortunate events for Clearwater Central Catholic, which seemed to finally figure out Reed with three consecutive RBI singles to turn a pitcher’s duel into a 7-1 victory in a Class 3A region semifinal.
The sudden turn of events sends CCC (25-4) to West Palm Beach King’s Academy Friday for its sixth region championship game since 2001, with a trip to state on the line.
After retiring his 10th straight hitter to open the bottom of the sixth, Reed (8-4) got Brendan Overton to hit an easy groundball to short.
But the throw sailed into the Calvary Christian dugout, leaving Overton at second.
CCC starting pitcher David Paul was walked intentionally, before catcher and No. 5 hitter Andrew Mink nudged a Reed offering into short rightfield to score Overton and break a 1-all tie.
But the Marauders weren’t done. Andrew Murphy was next, with a two-run single, and pinch-hitter James Hancock Jr. followed with another RBI single.
Another throwing error scored two more runs, giving Paul all the cushion he needed.
“We caught a break, that kind of opened the door,” CCC coach Todd Vaughan said. “My guys just took advantage and got some hits. Mink was huge for us. The at-bats he had before that didn’t look too good, but he did what we needed him to do.”
As did Paul, who allowed just three hits and struck out nine in improving to 9-0 on the season.
Reed’s homer in the fifth that tied the score was the first ball the Warriors (22-8) hit out of the infield, and Jake Richardson’s single the next inning was the only other one to find the outfield.
Paul bore down after giving up the home run, retiring nine of the last 11 batters he faced.
“Well, obviously it got in my head a little bit but I knew I had to keep pitching,” Paul said. “I knew one run wasn’t going to beat a team like that and we had to score more runs, and they were going to need more than one run and I wasn’t going to let that happen.”
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