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Sarasota Thursday, May 12, 2022 1 week ago

Riverview High baseball cannot complete comeback in regional quarterfinals

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Sarasota High and Cardinal Mooney High also lost their regional quarterfinal games Tuesday night.
by: Ryan Kohn Sports Editor

Given the circumstances, the Riverview High baseball team was happy it had a chance. 

After falling behind to East Lake High (21-5) 4-1 in the second inning, the Rams immediately got two runs back in the third on a double from sophomore Cooper Backman that scored seniors Christopher "Pip" Smalley and Cooper Bowditch. Neither team  scored in the fourth, fifth or sixth. In the seventh, with their season on the line, the Rams collected a walk from senior Chris Barr and a single from Smalley, putting the tying run in scoring position with one out. 

Then East Lake pitcher Jayden Harriel shut the door, getting senior Dylan Wilds to fly out and Bowditch to strike out. Harriel, a sophomore, has not allowed an earned run all season; he pitched the final two innings against Riverview, taking over for senior Nathan Norwood. The Rams had the heart of their order up to try to become the first team get chip a run off him, but they came up short. 

"We came within one," Rams coach Jeremy Schmidt said. "That's all you can ask for is (being within) striking distance. We had the opportunities. They were just better tonight."

The Rams' troubles began in the second inning when, after taking a 1-0 lead, Smalley — the team's starting pitcher — got his plant foot stuck in the pitching mound clay on the first pitch of the inning, which caused his knee to move awkwardly. Schmidt came out to assess the injury, and though Smalley stayed in the game, he was not as effective as he was in the first inning. The Eagles scored all four of their runs in the inning, though none of them were earned runs charged to Smalley because of various errors in the field.

Rams junior Sam Klanot threw five scoreless innings in relief against East Lake High. Klanot will be a key member of the team's pitching staff in 2023.

Smalley was replaced on the mound in the third by junior Sam Klanot, who held the Eagles scoreless the rest of the way; Smalley stayed in the game as a hitter. 

"He (Smalley) could not get his push off on his drive," Schmidt said. "We didn't want to push him. We had Sam ready to go."

It was an unfortunate break for the Rams, who end their season with an 18-9 record and a Class 7A district title. The Rams will graduate 12 seniors this spring, so next year's team will look quite different, though Schmidt is excited for the graduating class's future. 

"A lot of those guys are going to play at the next level," Schmidt said. "That's our job as coaches, to move guys on and see them succeed. Just because you don't win a (state) championship doesn't mean the year was not successful."

The two other playoff baseball teams in the Sarasota area also saw their seasons end Tuesday night.

  • Sarasota High (18-8) lost 4-0 to Durant High (18-8) on the road. The Sailors managed just three hits off Durant sophomore pitcher Blaine Rowland, a Florida commit, who threw 6 2/3 innings before junior Gavin Florio came in to strike out Sailors junior Luke Binswanger and end the game. Bernard Barnes Jr. started for the Sailors, allowing two earned runs (four total runs) on seven hits in 3 1/3 innings. Senior Bradley Ramsden pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings in relief. 
  • Cardinal Mooney High (12-10) lost 6-2 to Berkeley Prep (25-3) at home. The Cougars were close enough for a realistic comeback, trailing 3-1 through five innings, until the Buccaneers scored three more in the top of the sixth to make the score 6-1. The Cougars would add a run in the bottom of the sixth but never threatened the lead. Bronson Sessa pitched a complete game for Mooney, allowing three earned runs (six total runs) on nine hits with three strikeouts. The Cougars got four hits off three Berkeley Prep pitchers; senior Landon Jensen had the lone RBI on a double. 

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I’m the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. I was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. My biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. My strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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