'Unlikely' Sarasota Wins Florida!

Written by Jeff Dahn on October 7, 2013 |


FORT MYERS, Fla. - Everything had to go just right for the Sarasota Baseball Club and head coach Clyde Metcalf over the past four days. Every piece had to fit and every part had to mesh. Most importantly, perhaps, every test had to be passed.


The Sarasota Baseball Club, which in reality is the 2013-14 Sarasota High School team that Metcalf also coaches, entered the playoffs as the No. 16 seed and then did everything it needed to do en route to winning the championship at the 6th annual PG WWBA Florida Qualifier.


The capper came early Monday afternoon when an opportunistic SBC clipped the 15th-seeded Team Tampa Bay Warriors, 4-3, in the championship game at jetBlue Park. Sarasota finished 7-1 at the four-day tournament while Tampa Bay was right on its heels at 6-2.


“A lot of things really fell our way to be able to do this,” Metcalf said after the title game. “It was unlikely – very unlikely. A lot of things fell into place for us and it was really gratifying to see these guys accomplish this.”


Many students at Sarasota High School were required to take the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) on Monday, an exam that students must pass before they are allowed to graduate. That requirement certainly affected the Sarasota Baseball Club.


“We had four guys that had to take the F-CAT today so we didn’t have those guys for the (semifinal game) this morning,” Metcalf said. “That first game we had a first baseman playing third, we had a catcher playing right, so we had some issues.”


Two of those prospects that took the test Monday morning – 2014s Zachary McMullen and Tyler Leonard – arrived like knights in shining armor in the bottom of the third inning of the championship game and contributed. McMullen, a left-hander, pitched the final two innings in relief without giving up a hit or a run while striking out two, and Leonard smacked a seventh inning single.


Their teammates had done a good job of taking care of business before they arrived, however. This was a 2-2 game after the first inning but Sarasota led 4-2 after 4 ½ and although Team Tampa Bay scored a run in the bottom of the fifth it would get no closer.


2015 right-handed submariner Shelby Banks came in in relief for SBC and scattered five hits over four innings while allowing one earned run. Dylan Busby was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI and Skylar Frey was 1-for-3 with two RBI.


Team Tampa Bay was its own worst enemy in the title game – the Warriors committed five errors in the first three innings and all four of SBC’s runs were unearned. Tampa Bay left-hander Jeffery Vaughn pitched a complete game seven-hitter without allowing an earned run and struck out four without a walk. Derek King was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and Robbie Hanlin went 2-for-3 with a triple, two RBI and a run scored.


SBC’s Frey, a junior at Sarasota High, was named the tournament Most Valuable Player after hitting .526 (10-for-19) with two doubles, eight RBI and three runs.


“It’s a good start to our (fall) season and I’ve been working hard,” Frey said. “I just broke out this weekend and started hitting a lot and I was seeing the ball really well. We were really scrappy and we found a way to (score) runs. Our defense just worked and our pitching was just on-point.”


Pitching was the key for Sarasota, especially early in the tournament. In its first three pool-play games, SBC got complete game shutouts from three right-handers – Leonard, Andrew Beyer and Jordan Gubelman – which were like a gift from the baseball gods.


Leonard threw a five-inning, two-hitter with 10 strikeouts; Beyer threw a seven-inning no-hitter with seven K’s; and Gubelman pitched-in with a seven-inning, 10-strikeout three-hitter.


“We enter these (PG) tournaments all the time with the purpose of getting as many games as we can against the best competition that we can, but also with the understanding this our high school team,” Metcalf said. “We don’t have the pitching depth that a lot of the travel teams have but we’re blessed this year with the fact that we’re eight-deep on the mound.”


"It may be about a situation that just occurred on the field, someone was out of position. Late in the game we may bring them together and say, 'All right, we have to get a man on base. If we get a man on base, guys, we are playing for a run. Mentally start preparing yourself for that. We're going to bunt or hit-and-run. If we get a man on second base, you have to hit the ball to the right side of the infield to move him up.' ... It's man-on-man, let's go get him and see what happens. That's, to me, baseball."

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