EAGLES 11 COUGARS 0 (5 Inn.)
CLEARWATER – Josh Pigozzo and Sean Murray each drove in three runs and two pitchers combined to record East Lake’s ninth shutout of the season Tuesday as the unbeaten Eagles jumped all over Countryside, 11-0 in five innings.
“When you keep winning you can come out relaxed and just play the game,” Pigozzo said. “We make sure we play hard and take care of business.”
Pigozzo (2-for-4) scored in the first inning on Ryan Slater’s two-run single to center field and East Lake never looked back. Pigozzo reached on the first of Countryside’s three fielding errors Tuesday, resulting in four total unearned runs. The Eagles entered the Class 8A District 7 game averaging eight runs a game, however, and didn’t need the extra assistance.
East Lake pounded out 13 hits, including three doubles, and four Eagles recorded multi-hit games.
Countryside put at least one runner on base in four of five innings but no one advanced past second base. The Cougars’ biggest threat came while things were still close, trailing 2-0 in the second. Dealing with runners at first and second with one out, East Lake starting pitcher Nate Culver struck out Dakota Cole before getting a little help from right fielder Paul Phillips. Countryside’s Chase Maiden sent a sinking line drive into shallow right with both baserunners moving on contact, but a charging Phillips was there to make the sliding grab.
“We just had an 11-0 game but one of the biggest things I brought up was that when it was 2-0, Paul Phillips made a diving catch that saved two runs,” East Lake coach Zack Roper said. “Instead of a 2-2 game and the momentum is on Countryside’s side, we’re sitting 2-0 and we’re still in the driver’s seat.”
Culver surrendered three hits in four innings and Tanner Goswick worked a scoreless fifth to preserve the Eagles’ ninth shutout and the mercy-rule victory.
The district rivals will play their second and final regular season league game tomorrow at East Lake (15-0, 5-0). Countryside (6-7, 4-3) is now in a second-place tie with Seminole.
EL 203 06x x --- 11-13-0
CS – 000 00x x --- 0-3-3
WP – Nate Culver (4-0)
LP – Ryan Scivally
East Lake (15-0, 5-0)
Josh Pigozzo – 2-for-4, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 R
Sean Murray – 2-for-3, 3 RBI, R, SB
Ryan Slater – 2-for-2, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R, BB
Countryside (6-7, 4-3)
Brooks Bennett – 1-for-2, BB
Daniel Rosinski – 1-for-2