Author Credit: John Magrino
Raymond Negron-Valero’s two-run triple with two outs in the top of the seventh inning brought DP Baseball even with Cypress Creek and Hamzah Nobles delivered a go-ahead RBI double in the ninth as the Panthers stunned the top-seeded Bears, 5-3, to punch their ticket to the District Championship and the Regional Tournament. DP (15-12), fresh off a 14-0 demolition of Lake Nona that exorcised two regular season losses, simply could not capitalize on several opportunities in the early innings against Cypress Creek but the Bears got on the board in the third on a two-run double to take a 2-0 lead. Senior shortstop August Haymaker gave the Panthers a lift in the top of the fourth, however, driving a 1-1 pitch deep over the left field fence for his first home run of the season to cut the defiicit in half, 2-1. That momentum was washed away by Cypress Creek in the bottom of the fifth, however, when the Bears took starting pitcher Cort Roedig deep to push their lead up to 3-1. DP went quietly in the sixth, and Logan Bryan came on in relief for Roedig, who struck out six batters in five solid innings of work. In their final opportunity to extend their season, DP came to the plate in the seventh and with one out, Sebastian Oetterer jumped on the first pitch and laced a single to right. Jorden Peace came in to run for Oetterer and pinch hitter Diego Garcia-Chirinos drew a walk to put the tying run on first. With James Hurst running for Garcia-Chirinos at first, Raymond Negron-Valero then came to the plate with two outs, having been hitless in his two previous at-bats, but the junior worked the count to 3-1 and belted a triple into the left-center field gap to bring home Peace and Hurst with the tying runs. With new life and all the momentum in their dugout, the Panthers shut down Cypress Creek defensively in the seventh and through the scoreless eighth. In the top of the ninth, Sebastian Oetterer was the catalyst again, earning first base on a hit batsman and gave way once again to Jorden Peace on the basepath. Raymond Negron-Valero came up big again with two outs, legging out an infield single to put runners at first and second for senior Hamzah Nobles at the top of the order. Nobles turned on a 3-1 pitch and ripped a double down the left field lline to score Peace for a 4-3 lead, their first of the game. With runners at second and third, Brandon Fields then hit a hard shot to third but rather than trying throw out Fields at first, the third baseman opted to try to tag out Hamzah Nobles but the senior slid in safely underneath the tag as Negron-Valero scored to make it 5-3. In the bottom of the ninth, unflappable junior Logan Bryan, who did not allow a hit in the previous three innings, took the hill and owned it. Bryan fired nine consecutive strikes, striking out all three batters to clinch the victory for the fifth-seeded Panthers. Bryan went four shutout innings, alllowed no hits while striking out six to pick up the victory. DP will now host second-seeded Boone Friday at 4:30 pm for the District Championship.