Written by Staff Report on April 25, 2014 | Herald-Tribune

 

Sailors swamp Pirates in district final

SARASOTA, Fla. – Whether it’s your first district championship or your 20th, it’s always nice to see three runs on the board before you see three outs.

 

In Clyde Metcalf’s case, it was No. 20, and this one was easier than most.

 

Brandon Chapman’s three-run, first-inning home run, the first of two for the 6-foot senior, staked Sarasota High to an early lead, and junior Jordan Gubelman faced no more than five batters in four easy innings Friday night, as the Sailors pounded Braden River 14-2 in the Class 7A-District 10 final at Drews Field.

 

“We think we’ve got a pretty good pitching staff,” Metcalf said. “So we talk all the time about getting a quick start and putting pressure on the other club.”

 

That didn’t happen in Wednesday’s semifinals, when Sarasota (24-3) trailed Lakewood Ranch by three, before rallying for a 5-4 win.

 

“Quite frankly, that wasn’t a very comfortable feeling,” Metcalf said.

 

Cody Brickhouse, Matt Schlabach and Mason Dancer backed up Chapman’s 3-for-3, five-RBI night with two hits apiece, treating Pirate pitchers Brock Yaunce, Noah Paulson and Jordan Guerrero with equal disregard.

 

“Once I saw a 3-0 lead, I was like, ‘All right, this is our game,’ ” said Gubelman, who allowed three hits, one walk and one unearned run while improving to 6-0. “Just throw as many strikes as possible, stay ahead in counts, and let the players make plays in the field.”

 

It was the 34th district title since 1955 for the storied Sarasota program, which has hoisted eight state championship trophies, six under Metcalf (807-208 in 33 seasons). The Sailors will host Tarpon Springs East Lake, a 3-2 loser to St. Petersburg Northeast in 7A-9, in a Region 3 quarterfinal Wednesday night.

 

“Tonight, one through nine, we hit,” he said. “If you can do that in the playoffs, you’re going to be tough. Hitting like this can get us on a roll. Hopefully, it will be contagious.”

 

Chapman’s first-inning blast to left-center, following an error and Brickhouse’s single up the middle, was merely the opening salvo. Dancer singled in a run later in the inning and, after a 1-2-3 second, Brickhouse delivered another single to open the third.

 

“The second at-bat, I was looking off-speed,” Chapman said, “because I just hit the home run the first at-bat, and (Yaunce) laid one in there.”

 

First pitch, gone. That smash to left made it 6-0, and RBI singles by Dancer and Evan Mendoza followed during a pair of five-run innings.

 

Braden River (13-13) got runs in the third and fifth innings, on an RBI grounder by Cole Pencosky and Brian Dillingham’s solid single to center.

 

The only real drama was in the Sarasota fourth, when Chapman, who began the night with only one homer all season, came up again, this time against the side-armed Paulson. He singled to left and eventually scored on an error.

 

“It would have been nice to hit another one,” he said. “But I was just trying to go 3-for-3. I’m being honest. You can’t try that on the side-arm guys.”

 

Added Metcalf: “Brandon got a couple of nice pitches there. He didn’t try to do too much with them, and the result was what we saw. That’s big for us in the first inning, to get that home run, just to get that momentum.

 

“It’s hard to overcome that in a playoff game. That was a big swing of the bat.”

 

Metcalf-coached teams have finished with four or fewer losses only nine other times, most recently in 2008.

 

“I thought for a district championship game, the kids played loose and really came out ready.”.