DUNEDIN – East Lake continued its hot start to the 2019 baseball season by running the table at the 50th Annual Dunedin Baseball Tournament.
The Eagles won all three of its games, capped by Friday night’s 3-0 blanking of Clearwater Central Catholic. Junior Ryan Slater went the distance, delivering seven innings of three-hit, shutout ball while striking out seven and walking two. The victory improved Slater’s record to 3-0. He’s surrendered just one run over three starts and 18 innings.
East Lake reached the championship game by taking out Boca Ciega and IMG Academy Blue and outscored its three opponents 26-4. The Eagles last won the tourney in 2016.
Four Eagles were named to the All-Tournament Team and three of those representatives earned additional individual trophies. Slater took home the Pitching Award, Parker Opie was named Most Valuable Player and Sean Murray was presented with the Hitting Award and pitcher Cooper Nelson joined them on the All-Tournament Team.
Opie went 4-for-9 at the plate with a home run, two doubles, three RBI and three runs scored. Murray went 3-for-5 with two triples, three RBI, three runs scored. Nelson earned the victory over IMG Academy Blue, surrendering three runs on three hits over five innings and striking out seven.
East Lake entered this week 7-0 overall. The Eagles face Class 8A District 7 rival Pinellas Park on back-to-back nights this week, heading south on Wednesday before hosting the Patriots Thursday.
IMG Academy Blue took third place after beating Indian Rocks Christian 8-3 and Dunedin placed fourth by edging Boca Ciega 4-3. The host Falcons went 2-1 and had a pair of players make the All-Tournament Team: Dominic Baratta and Connor Russell.
Dunedin’s record went to 4-3 after the tournament and its schedule this week includes three games. The Falcons host Largo Tuesday before traveling to Palm Harbor University Wednesday and down to Largo Friday. Dunedin and Largo are District 6A-9 opponents.
The baseball team isn’t the only one excelling on East Lake diamonds this spring.
Eagles softball is 8-1 entering the week, with the only defeat coming Feb. 25 at Bartow. East Lake took the spring break week off after winning a tournament title of its own the week prior. The Eagles went 4-0 from March 8-9 at the highly competitive Montverde Academy Tournament, beating Jacksonville Trinity Christian Academy (5-3), Green Cove Springs Clay (5-1), Orlando Bishop Moore (6-0) and Montverde Academy for the championship (6-4).
Handling the bulk of East Lake’s pitching duties against this season is junior Tori Brennan. She enters this week 7-1 overall with 62 strikeouts and a 0.79 ERA over 53 innings pitched.
The Eagles are averaging 5.4 runs scored per game and getting contributions up and down the lineup. Senior Caroline Jacquay leads the team in average (.400) and runs scored (11), senior Nikki Steiniger has driven in a team-high eight runs, sophomore Katie Bright has seven RBI and four extra-base hits and junior Kansas Crean has hit two of East Lake’s four home runs and brought home six baserunners.
The Eagles have won consecutive district titles and are the favorite to bring home another District 8A-7 championship trophy in 2019. They’ll play district rival Countryside Tuesday before starting up the annual Lady ’Canes Spring Classic at the Eddie C. Moore Softball Complex in Clearwater this Friday.