5A-15 District Tournament Preview
Tuesday April 21st
6:00 PM (3) Suncoast vs. (2) Bayside
Thursday April 23rd
6:00 PM Championship: Suncoast/Bayside winner vs. (1) Palm Bay
Overview – Baseball is a funny game, and sometimes the ball takes funny bounces. This district proved just how unpredictable the game can be by the way the seedings unfolded. After Palm Bay lost to Bayside with a chance to lock up the second seed, it forced a three-way tie. By random draw the Pirates emerged as the top seed, with the Bears as the second seed and Suncoast now relegated to the third seed.
Palm Bay receives an automatic berth in the district championship game, which also earns the team a spot in the regional playoffs. Meanwhile, Suncoast and Bayside must face off to see which will keep its season alive.
1. Palm Bay – Chances are pretty good that new Pirates Manager Sean Comfort is Irish. The good fortune the team got in securing the top seed is certainly the type of luck that could have come from a leprechaun, especially after it came following a Palm Bay loss that could have pushed the team into the three seed.
Now the Pirates are assured of a chance to compete for the district title. The club will be well-rested come time for the championship, and will be able to have its full arsenal of pitchers available.
Austin Fischer seems likely to get the call to start the district championship, although the club could also opt to use Chase Jessee. Pitching will be vastly important for a team that has struggled to score runs this season.
2. Bayside – The Bears have two legitimate aces in Tanner Laventure and Tyler Douglass, and these two could be the key to their success. The pair combined for nearly half of the club;s wins this season, and have been on the mound in all its big games. While both could be called into action against Suncoast, it is most likely one will be saved to give the club a chance in a potential title contest.
Bayside has received strong relief pitching as it is. Cristian Ford and Hunter Baxley have logged some solid innings, thus providing their squad with a lot of depth on the hill.
Offensive woes seem to be the achilles heel of every team in this district, and the Bears are no different. While this keeps each team’s chances equal, it could also mean some low-scoring results.
2. Suncoast – The Chargers can take comfort in knowing it has beaten the Bears and ace Tanner Laventure once already this season. In that meeting, Matt Wolpert tossed a complete-game and held Bayside to just four hits. Meanwhile, Tyler Lavery tossed a complete-game victory to lead Suncoast past Palm Bay late in the season. So the team knows it can win against either opponent.
If ever there were a time to carry a chip on your shoulder, that time is now. Suncoast could just as easily be the top seed, or even the home team in the district semifinal. But nothing wort having comes easy, and now the Chargers have to go out and take the victory and prove they deserve it.
Pitching is a strength of the club, as it has been all year long. Lavery and Wolpert headline a strong pitching corps, with Liam Lyons and Casey Goldenburg waiting in relief.
Offense has not been as strong a component for Suncoast, and the club has relied heavily on good defense and strong pitching to keep in games. Alec Guerricabeitia has led the hitters, and if ever there were a time for the guys to have their best at bats of the season it is now.