ST. PETERSBURG -- One bad inning. Two bad plays.
It was an equation that led to a less-than-desirable result Wednesday night for Braden River's baseball team.
The Pirates fell 2-0 to St. Petersburg Northeast in a Class 7A-Region 3 quarterfinal, done in by a shoddy first inning that led to both Vikings' runs -- neither of which was earned.
"We've been successful all year when we've gotten ahead -- we always pitch well, we play good defense," said Pirates coach Craig Page. "But we're not a team built to come from behind."
That's exactly what Braden River (13-14) had to do Wednesday, however, when Northeast plated two runs three batters into the game. The Vikings' leadoff hitter, Angelo Terrasi, reached when his ground ball bounced through the legs of Pirates' first baseman Matt Parrill. He later went to third on a single by Chris Clark.
Clark attempted to steal second, but the throw from Braden River catcher Tristan Burdette bounced into center field, allowing Terrasi to score and Clark to reach third. Bret Maxwell's sacrifice fly made the score 2-0.
The Pirates' defense was airtight from that point. Parrill had no trouble corralling a pair of pop-ups, including one over his head and another up against the fence in foul territory; Burdette threw out Jason Mugavero trying to steal third in the fifth; and center fielder John Graves and left fielder Derrick Cozzette each made diving catches, with the latter coming with two outs and the bases loaded in the third.
"I don't know if it was so much jitters. I'm sure being young, there were some nerves," Page said after wrapping his first year as Braden River's head coach. "But it's kind of one of those things where you've been playing
the game your whole lives, you know what's it about. You've got to put those exterior things aside and just play."
The Pirates' offense never clicked thanks to Colton Tison, the Vikings' 6-foo-2 junior southpaw who allowed two hits, stuck out nine and walked two in leading Northeast (23-4) to its 17th straight win.
Tison's biggest escape act came in the fourth, when the Pirates put runners on second and third with one out when Daren Ortiz doubled and Parrill reached on an error by shortstop Kobe Hartley. But Tison struck out Jordan Guerrero and Burdette, squelching Braden River's last rally of the night.
It also made a hard-luck losing pitcher out of the Pirates' Eric Kimsey. The sophomore allowed four hits, all singles, and set down the final eight batters he faced.
It was the kind of performance that has Page optimistic about the future, especially since Guerrero was the only Braden River senior in the starting lineup Wednesday.
"These guys, being my first year, were way above our expectations this year," he said. "They bought into everything we were trying to do We're really excited about the future. These guys have battled their butts off all year long."