MaxPreps Florida Team of the Week: Sarasota Baseball

Written by Mitch Stephens on March 28, 2014 | MaxPreps


MAXPREPS – "If you can't beat them, then join them" is an old political saying that's been tossed around since the 1940s. 


"If you can't score on them, then you can't beat them," is something the Sarasota baseball team might have conjured up thus far in the 2014 season. 


The Sailors are off to a 13-0 start while outscoring opponents by a 110-12 mark. They've recorded seven shutouts and allowed two or fewer runs in all but one game, including a 4-2 triumph over two-time defending state champion Venice, which was ranked No. 6 in the country. 


For their fast start, lights-out pitching and stellar defense, the Sailors are the MaxPreps Florida Team of the Week, presented by the Florida National Guard. 


Coach Clyde Metcalf had a good hunch the Sailors would be strong with such a fantastic pitching staff.


"We have three senior pitchers who have signed Division I scholarships and a junior pitcher who is a strong recruit," he said. "We are averaging just over one walk per game so they do a really good job and are a very talented group. 


"Defensively, we've been playing exceptional. We have nine errors in 13 games. They say that pitching and defense wins the game and those two things have been the key for us." 


In the win over Venice, Brandon Chapman scored the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth on a balk and Sam Carillo added insurance with a sacrifice fly, according to the Sarasota Herald Tribune. 


Zach McMullen, a lefty, was the winning pitcher, striking out five in two innings of relief.


"I wanted the ball," McMullen said. "I was feeling good and I was already loose at that point since I was already in the game." 


McMullen took over for Evan Mendoza, who went the first seven and gave up just two runs on six hits. 


"We were very prepared," Metcalf said about the win over Venice. "It's a big rivalry since they are 20 minutes south of us and the kids always look forward to that game. Both teams played great and we were lucky to get those runs at the end. We've had some great games with them over the years and they've knocked us out of playoffs the last two years. That adds an extra incentive to the game. 


"It was a very exciting game. There was a big crowd and a great atmosphere with two really good high school baseball teams. It was a pleasure to be a part of that. We play them again later and I'm sure the next game will have a very similar atmosphere." 


Under Metcalf, Sarasota has gone 142-50 since 2007, including 22-7 last season. The Sailors reached the second round of the 7A playoffs, losing to — of all teams — Venice, 3-0. 


Metcalf has been coaching for 33 years total. He doesn't appear interested in retiring any time soon. 


"I always loved the game and had a passion for coaching," he said. "I was an assistant coach for six years and then my alma mater Sarasota called and I was lucky enough to get offered this job. It was a dream job because I was born and raised in this community and I grew up on our little league fields, so it was a pretty good fit."


Besides McMullen and Mendoza, right-hander Joey Cavallaro has been a standout. He's headed to the University of South Florida. 


Other big hitters for Sarasota are Matt Schlabach, Mason Dancer and Cody Brickhouse. The Sailors have gone 8-0 against Class 7A-District 10 play.


Metcalf likes the outlook and makeup of his squad. 


"Our guys prioritize well and are good at taking it one game at a time," he said. "Our first goal is to win the district championship. They don't talk about it, but I know it's in the back of their minds to want to make it down to Fort Myers. We talk about the process a lot and what we need to do to win the district championship and they know we have to keep going through that process." 


MaxPreps editorial assistant Kirstin Beal contributed to this report.


(Direct link to publication: click here)