Stoneman Douglas and North Florida Christian Rally for Victories; Venice Silences Trinity Christian's Bats in TOC Finale


Phil Kerber
PBR Florida/JUCO Wire

JACKSONVILLE, FL - The Tournament of Champions concluded on Saturday with a triple header at Trinity Christian Academy. In Game 1, Stoneman Douglas rallied back from a 4-0 deficit to defeat Venice 8-4. Game 2 saw North Florida Christian use a big six run 5th inning to beat Stoneman Douglas 7-2. Finally, in the conclusion of the TOC, Venice held off a late rally from Trinity Christian to win 5-3.

Venice jumped out to the early 2-0 lead against Stoneman Douglas in Game 1. C Mac Guscette (Florida recruit) led the game off with a single, CF Michael Robertson (Florida recruit) followed with a double out of the two-hole. Guscette would score by way of interference rounding third base. 1B Aiden Corn drove Robertson in on a deep sacrifice fly to left field.

The Indians put more pressure on Douglas when they doubled their lead in the second inning. Back-to-back hits, including a double by Jack Curcio gave Venice two men on and one out in the second. An error and a Guscette single aided the offense in scoring two runs and making it 4-0.

The game would settle down for a few innings because of the pitching of Douglas reliever RHP Kevin Heinrich (Arkansas recruit) The righty entered with two out in the second inning and shut the Venice offense down. With his fastball working up to 87 mph and sharp breaking ball at 71-73, Heinrich kept the Indians off the board for the final 5.2 innings of the game.
 


For his part, Venice starter Danny Rodriguez (Florida Gulf Coast recruit) was able to strand the Douglas offense on a number of occasions. Rodriguez frustrated the Eagles with a four pitch mix, constantly making batters guess what was coming next.

 


Once Douglas chased Rodriguez from the game in the fifth inning, everything changed. The Eagles loaded the bases and then benefited from two bases loaded walks to cut the deficit in half, 4-2.

Then, in the the sixth inning, the Douglas offense came to life.Five hits and three walks in the inning resulted in an offensive outburst of six runs. At one point, six consecutive batters reached base. Coby Mayo (UCF recruit) and Gabe Cabrera (UCF recruit) both came up big in the inning with base hits that scored two runs apiece.

 


When the dust had finally settled and we headed to the top of the seventh inning, it was 8-4 Douglas led Venice. Venice would go down in order in the final frame.

Game 2 of the day played out similarly to Game 1, North Florida Christian (NFC) used a big six run fifth inning to pull away from Stoneman Douglas. NFC got on the board first in the second when JD Jerry scored on an error by the third baseman. RHP Brandon Walker (Florida State recruit) was absolutely dominant for NFC over the first three innings. With his fastball touching 93, sitting mostly 90-92, Walker sent down the first nine batters he faced in order. He also effectively mixed in three breaking balls: slider, curveball, changeup.
 

 


The only time Douglas was able to get to Walker was in the fourth inning. Gary Swanson led off with double and then came around to score shortly after on an Andrew Jenner (Winthrop single). Jenner came around to score later in the inning, giving Douglas the 2-1 lead.

RHP Luke Schiltz (Florida SouthWestern recruit) was able to hold NFC in check over the first four innings of the game.
 

 


The fifth inning was a different story. NFC loaded the bases with the first three batters of the game. 2B Josiah Miller (Florida State recruit) then delivered the go-ahead hit, a two-run double. With men on second and third, no outs, 1B Major Posey (UCF recruit) added two more runs on his single. Jerry then extended the lead further on a bases loaded single with one out. At the end, Douglas trailed NFC 6-2.

Douglas had the bases loaded with one out on Walker in the seventh inning when NFC went to the bullpen. JD Tease (Florida State recruit) entered and promptly got two outs, securing the 6-2 victory for NFC. Walked finished with a final line of: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 10 K.

Game 3 featured the hosts Trinity Christian and Venice. Trinity Christian’s RHP Dylan Simmons (Florida State recruit) against one of the top offenses at TOC, Venice. Simmons came out sitting 89-91 in the first inning, but the Indians were able to capitalize on some command issues to tag Simmons for two runs in the first inning.

 


After the first, the game settled in to a pitchers duel. Simmons and Venice starter RHP Clay Callan (Florida Gulf Coast recruit) went at it for five innings until Venice got the better of Simmons. Callan was able to scatter three hits, walked two and struck out five over five innings.

Trinity Christian was held quiet until the final inning of the game. Trailing 5-0, with three outs remaining, Trinity Christian came to life. Simmons reached base safely on error, then Matt Crump walked, followed by an RBI double by Kishon Frett. Tyson Tucker then added a base hit, scoring two more runs, making the score 5-3. That would be all Trinity Christian could muster though, as they would fall by that same score, 5-3.

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