Prep baseball | Sarasota downs Lakewood Ranch; Braden River defeats North Port in 7A-10 semifinals

Special to the HeraldApril 24, 2014 

Braden River's Tristan Burdette drops the bat as he runs to first while playing Manatee in a home game Wednesday night. TIFFANY TOMPKINS-CONDIE/Bradenton Herald

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SARASOTA -- Lakewood Ranch got off to a hot start, but it wasn't enough in falling to the Sarasota Sailors 5-4 in the Class 7A-District 10 semifinal Wednesday night.

Ranch's Alex Gutowski kept top-seeded Sarasota off-balance for the first two innings until getting rattled in the bottom of the third.

"We knew if we had a chance to win we would have to put the pressure on early," second-year Mustangs coach Ryan Kennedy said.

The Sailors benefited from a few Lakewood Ranch miscues. Skylar Frey got his team on the board following a Mustangs bad pitch in the dirt, starting the rally.

Sarasota's Cody Brickhouse was walked on five pitches, loading the bases and forcing Kennedy to pull Gutowski.

"He did well, but they started to hit the ball well and put it in play," Kennedy said.

The pitching change didn't help Lakewood Ranch. Brandon Champman hit a line drive scoring one run, however a great throw from center field kept the second runner from coming across the plate.

Dylan Busby drove in a run on a line drive followed by a Mustangs overthrow allowing Brickhouse to score and tie the game at 3.

Lakewood Ranch forced the next two batters to fly out, getting out of the inning and forcing the Sailors to strand two runners in scoring position.

Sarasota's Evan Mendoza got into a groove, retiring 10 straight batters.

Following a base hit and another Lakewood Ranch error, Skyler Frey scored from second on a Mendoza line drive up the middle giving the Sailors their first lead of the night 4-3.

After a Tyler Leonard double to left center, Mendoza connected on a curve just outside the plate brining Leonard home giving his team enough cushion.

"We never lost confidence even when we were down 3-0, I have confidence in my team and knew the bats would get going," Mendoza said.

Mustangs Shane Zipperer hit a deep shot to center scoring a run closing the deficit to 5-4 in the top of the seventh, but it was too little too late.

BRADEN RIVER 4, NORTH PORT 0 -- Eric Kimsey fired a five-hit shutout as the visiting Pirates avenged two regular-season losses to the Bobcats and advanced to Friday's district final at Sarasota.

Kimsey struck out two and walked one. Third-seeded Braden River (13-12) scored one run in the first inning and three in the second, and Kimsey made it stand up against second-seeded North Port.

Brian Dillingham doubled twice, drove in a run and score a run to lead the Pirates on offense. Matt Parrill went 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Braden River will visit Sarasota at 7 p.m. Friday. Both teams will advance to next week's region tournament.

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