Baseball, softball distict tournaments this week

Isaiah Jean-Baptiste reached base three times, racking up two hits and scoring two goals, and Danny Ramirez hit five of the six hitters he faced as the Osceola Kowboys (19-5) started their 2022 regular season with a 6-4 win against rival St Cloud (5-17).

Ben Segura gave the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead in the first inning and scored Edgar Garcia with an RBI single. The Kowboys tied it at the end of the second when Blake Birchler doubled and got in the middle after a sharp single from Edwin Melendez.

The Bulldogs overstayed three in the lead of the third, capitalizing on two hits, two walks and a wild pitch. Only a sensational double-header shot by short stop Nick Palmi and second baseman Luis Nunez kept the damage down to three as St. Cloud went 4-1 up.

A few wild pitches would allow the Kowboys to get back in the game in the third game. Baptiste scored, stole second place and finished third on a wild pitch before hitting Palmi’s groundout. Louis Rodriguez would leave, advancing to second on a wild field and scoring on Ramirez’s RBI single.

After winning pitcher Birchler (2-0) eased two innings scoreless, the Kowboys, bottom of the table, would finally take the lead – scoring three goals and taking a 6-4 lead. Baptiste and Palmi would open the inning with back-to-back singles, with Baptiste scoring on a wild field. Palmi would score with a throwing error that allowed Rodriguez to advance to third base. He would later score on a wild course.

Meanwhile, Ramirez went into shutdown mode in the last two innings to get the save. He pulled Logan Grathwol back with a flyball to the right to open the eighth inning before registering five straight strikeouts to end the game and register his first save of the season. Ramirez (5-0, 1 save) dropped his ERA to 1.15 on the season.

Osceola are at their peak at the right time, having won 13 of their last 14 games, coach Scott Birchler said.

“I like how we’re playing now,” said Birchler, who missed Friday’s game due to illness. “We have the pitching to basically hold each other in every game. The key will be picking up the big hits when we need them.”

St. Cloud had no senior in their starting lineup and played three freshmen. The district quarterfinals are scheduled for Monday, the semifinals on Wednesday, and the district championship games on Thursday. Here is an overview of the county baseball and softball tournaments:

BASEBALL

Class 7A, District 9 (at Osceola High School)

Sowing: 1st Lake Nona (18-5), 2nd Osceola (19-5), 3rd Freedom (11-7), 4th Cypress Creek (14-6) 5th Tohopekaliga (9-8).

Plan: Quarterfinals Monday: Cypress Creek vs. Tohopekaliga (7 p.m.); Wednesday Semifinals: Cypress Creek/Tohopekaliga Winner vs. Lake Nona (4pm); Freedom vs. Osceola (7 p.m.); Thursday district championship: Semi-final winner 7 p.m. Thursday

Remarks: With Osceola and Lake Nona favored for the championship game, the teams played twice, with the Kowboys throwing a one-hitter but losing 3–2 at Lake Nona on March 2 but coming back with a lead at home on March 11 count 2:1. Osceola also defeated Freedom 13-2 in their regular season game. Tohopekaliga can guarantee their first successful season in school history with a win over Cypress Creek in the quarterfinals. When Osceola and Lake Nona meet in the Finals, look for the loser who gets promoted to the Regionals as a wild card – a journey the Kowboys took last year – and can eventually advance to the Regionals. The Kowboys have been seeking their third district title since 2016.

Class 6A, District 11 (at St. Cloud High School)

Sowing: 1st Melbourne (21-1), 2nd Viera (18-7), 3rd Harmony (10-15), 4th Heritage (11-12), 5th St Cloud (5-17), 6th Poinciana (1-13).

Plan: Quarterfinals Monday: Poinciana vs Harmony (4pm), Heritage vs St Cloud (7pm); Semifinals Wednesday: Winner Harmony/Poinciana vs. Viera (4 p.m.), Melbourne vs. Heritage/St. Cloud winner at 7:00 p.m. Thursday district championship: semi-final winner at 7:00 p.m

Remarks: Based on the records, it will be difficult for any of the three Osceola County schools to advance without a district championship win. The district boasts one of the state’s top teams in Melbourne, which is 21-1 and finished sixth in Class 6A. Melbourne has beaten their opponents by 209-37 points this season. The Longhorns lost a 5-4 decision in an extra innings to Viera earlier this season.

Class 7A, District 5 (Highest Seed Hosts)

Sowing: 1. Windermere (21-3), 2. Dr. Phillips (14-11), 3rd Olympia (14-11), 4th Haines City (13-8), 5th Celebration (9-12).

Plan: Quarterfinals Monday: Haines City at Celebration, 7pm; Wednesday Semi-Finals: Haines City/Celebration winners in Windermere, 4.30pm; Olympia with Dr. Phillips, 7 p.m.; Thursday District Championship: Semi-Final Winner at Highest Seed, TBA

Remarks: Tough district to celebrate as it features four high profile teams with winning records. Celebration meets district opponents for the first time this season. Ranked third in the state in Class 7A, Windermere has five starters hitting .300 or higher, including hitting junior Gustavo Mendez, who hits .534 with 8 homers and 28 RBI.

Class 5A, District 11 (Highest Seed Hosts)

Sowing: 1st Eau Gallie (16-6), 2nd Rockledge (16-8), 3rd Lake Wales (12-13), 4th Liberty (14-10), 5th Gateway (4-13), 6th Jones (0-12-1)

Plan: Quarterfinals on Monday: Gateway at Liberty, 6pm, Jones at Lake Wales, 7pm; Tuesday Semifinals: Liberty/Gateway winners in Eau Gallie, 7pm; Lake Wales/Jones winners at Rockledge, 7pm; Thursday Championship: Semi-Final Winner of Highest Seeds, 7:00 p.m

Remarks: This is probably the most widespread district in the state, and includes teams on the east coast plus one team in Orlando west and south to Lake Wales. Sophomore pitcher/outfielder Edwardo Diaz leads the Chargers with a .423 average.

SOFT BALL

Class 6A, District 11 (Highest Seed Hosts)

Sowing: 1st Melbourne (19-2-1), 2nd Viera (11-9), 3rd Harmony (14-4), Sebastian River (11-6), 5th St Cloud (15-10)

Plan: Monday’s Quarterfinals: St. Cloud on Sebastian River, TBA; Tuesday semifinals: Sebastian/St. Cloud winners in Melbourne, 5:30 p.m.; Harmony in Viera, 5:30 p.m.; Thursday Championships: Semi-final winners at highest rank; TBA

Remarks: Tough district where Harmony’s 14-4 record could only manage a 3rd place. Longhorn student Aurielle Reavis leads the team in batting (.645), RBI (19), extra base hits (12), and home runs (3). Hannah Nasco continues her great season for the Bulldogs, hitting .521 with 16 hits for extra bases.

Class 5A, District 7 (at highest seeds)

Sowing: 1. Eau Gallie (12-11); 2nd Freedom (8-10); 3rd heir (5-14); 4th round (4-12); 5.Jones (1-14)

Plan: Monday Quarterfinals: Jones at Gateway, 6pm; Tuesday Semifinals: Gateway/Jones winners in Eau Gallie, 6pm; Heritage at Liberty, 6 p.m.; Thursday Championship: Semi-Final Winner, Highest Seed, TBA

Remarks: Distribute the district where each of the top three seeds could have a chance to win and advance.

Class 6A, District 9 (at highest seeds)

Sowing: 1st East Ridge (16-8), 2nd Osceola (9-13), 3rd East River (6-16), 4th Edgewater (9-9), 5th Poinciana (9-11), 6th Wekiva ( 3-11)

Plan: Monday Quarterfinals: Wekiva on the East River, 6 p.m.; Poinciana at Edgewater, 6 p.m.; Tuesday Semifinals: Poinciana/Edgewater Winner at Osceola, 6 p.m.; East River/Wekiva Winner at East Ridge, 6 p.m.; Thursday Championship: Highest Seed semi-final winner, 6 p.m

Remarks: Based on his current ranking (#50 in 7A), Osceola would most likely need a district championship to advance to the regional championships.

Class 7A, District 5 (at highest seeds)

sowing: 1st West Orange (16-7), Windermere (16-6), 3rd Ocoee (9-9), 4th Dr. Phillips (16-6), 5th Olympia (4-10), 6th Celebration (4-10)

Plan: Monday’s Quarterfinals: Celebration at the Ocoee, 4:30 p.m.; Olympia with Dr. Phillips, 4:30 p.m.; Tuesday semifinals: Celebration/Ocoee Winners in West Orange, 4:30 p.m.; Olympia/Dr. Phillips winner in Windermere, 4:30pm; Thursday Championship: Semi-Final Winner of Highest Seeds, 4:00 p.m

Remarks: A bad season combined with a difficult district will make it difficult for the Storm to move forward.

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