EAST LAKE — Sixteen runs. That's the combined run total East Lake's offense hung on its past two playoff opponents last week. The Eagles are entering Friday's Class 7A state semifinal against Kissimmee Osceola after building their season around a stellar pitching staff that has carried the team's streaky offense to victory more often than not. But the two-game, 16-run outburst is providing East Lake with a confidence it hasn't often felt all year. Leading into that hot streak at the plate – beginning with last Tuesday's 9-0 win at Northeast and followed by Friday's 7-3 victory at Melbourne – Eagles bats had produced just 17 runs over the previous eight games.
Including the 2-1 region quarterfinal win over nationally ranked Sarasota, East Lake has also strung together three straight 12-hit games. “Our lineup keeps getting better all around,” Eagles Coach Dan Genna said prior to the nine-run Northeast breakout. “I still think it's a good hitting team.” It's not as though this East Lake roster doesn't possess talent up and down its lineup. The team is hitting .304, led by Keegan Maronpot (.430), Brad Deppermann (.359) and Nick DeSantis (.321). Where the Eagles have struggled at times has been with stranding too many runners on base and not coming up with the big hit — until recently. They've suddenly begun rectifying that problem while also pounding out three of their six home runs over the past two games, two of which coming from junior Andrew Monahan. The second of Monahan's well-timed drives helped secure East Lake's trip to Fort Myers for states this Friday. The left fielder smacked a grand slam in the ninth inning that provided the Eagles with a commanding 7-2 lead. Only two more wins remain for East Lake to capture the program's first state championship. If its lineup continues to support an always solid pitching staff, that goal is completely attainable. firstname.lastname@example.org (727) 815-1071