Baseball falls in district final but makes post-season
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With one run already in and men on first and third, junior Jacob Thornton gets caught in a rundown. Senior Sam Burnett sprints to home while Thornton is caught between two bases. The throw goes home. The catcher makes the tag while Burnett slides into home plate. He is out.
One inning, a bench warning, arguments with the umpire and three runs. That was all it took for Hillsborough to fall to Gaither in the district finals.
The Terriers’ bench received a warning after the home plate umpire called a low strike for Gaither. The bench called out to the umpire about the ball being in the dirt. He gave every player a warning. After that, the umpire had the ability to eject anyone from the game if they continued their comments.
Throughout the second inning, there were disputes from both teams about play calls. Gaither was called out at first for a pickoff and Hillsborough ran into a double play. Both events led to arguments between the umpires, coaches and disputes from the players on the bench. “The calls are part of the game and we try to deal with them the best we can,” coach Bryan Burgess said.
Junior Nick Romano pitched through the third inning until senior Rodnie Bernard took over. In the bottom of the second, Gaither was able to gain the momentum Hillsborough could not achieve. With two outs Gaither scored three runs. “We need to reduce the amount of runs we [give up] in one inning and stay mentally focused throughout the game,” junior Tim Elko said.
In the district tournament game against King the day before, Elko hit a walk-off, three-run double in the bottom of the seventh to carry the team to a 5-4 win and send it to the district final. “It felt good to get out of my slump,” Elko said.
The boys baseball team is the 7A District 8 runner up. They play at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Winter Haven. Winter Haven is the 7A District 7 winner and undefeated in their district. “We’re taking on a legit arm so we need to hit the baseball and limit our mistakes,” Burgess said.