LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Nate Reed saved his best for last.
The Clearwater Calvary Christian senior right-hander was terrific throughout the Warriors' Class 3A-Region 3 quarterfinal against host Out-of-Door Academy, but Reed was missing a three-strikeout inning.
That is until the eighth inning, when he fanned all three Thunder hitters to close out a 1-0 extra-inning victory Thursday.
"He would drop down a little bit and throw that slider," said ODA head coach Billy Dietrich, whose team finished the season at 18-8. "It would start in the middle and break late on the outside corner. There's nothing you can do about it. When a guy is in a groove like that, it's tough."
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Reed and ODA sophomore Austin Hoppe were locked in a duel, with each pitcher matching zeroes for six innings.
Then Hoppe gave way to fellow sophomore Jimmy Kuebler, who threw the last two innings.
Kuebler only allowed one hit in two relief innings, but it was a decisive blow to ODA's playoff aspirations.
Calvary Christian's Johnny Schneider rapped a single to center field in the top of the eighth to plate Matt Piatt, who moved to third base on a passed ball after walking and advancing to second on
Jake Richardson's third sacrifice bunt of the night.
Then Reed took the hill to finish off the Thunder in 1-2-3 fashion with his devastating slider and fastball combination.
"I was trying to not throw anything right down the middle really," Reed said.
His stuff was so good that ODA, which pounded out 11 hits in a district championship victory over Cardinal Mooney, was limited to four base runners and didn't record its first hit until Desmond Lindsay's single in the seventh inning.
"Every time we get in the first round here, somebody comes out and starts dealing on us," Dietrich said. "It's all good. Like I said, when you get one hit, you're not going to win many ballgames."
Reed, a transfer from Seminole Osceola, said it was the best game of the season for him and that he primarily played shortstop at Osceola before coming to Calvary Christian.
He looked the part of a seasoned ace with 10 strikeouts out of the 26 batters he faced, even picking off ODA's first base runner to stay on target for facing the minimum through four frames.
Reed was in such a groove, the only thing that slowed him down was a 41-minute rain delay as the teams headed to the bottom of the fifth.
Upon returning from the break, Reed wasn't quite as sharp, allowing a runner on in the next three innings while tossing more pitches out of the zone than he did prior to the rain delay.
But Reed refocused after his club got him the run he needed to earn the victory.
ODA only loses one senior (first baseman Alex Horan) off this year's squad.
The Thunder return a solid core of sophomores and freshmen, including Hoppe (six innings, four hits, no runs, six strikeouts, two walks).
CLEARWATER CENTRAL CATHOLIC 9, CARDINAL MOONEY 1 -- During the Marauders' 16-game early-season win streak, coach Todd Vaughan said the only thing that matters is winning the last five.
One down, four to go.
Clearwater Central Catholic erupted for 10 hits, and starter David Paul pitched a two-hitter in a win over the Cougars in the Class 3A regional quarterfinal.
It took an inning for Paul to settle down. Cardinal Mooney got its only run in the first inning when Bucky Bonynge singled home Davis Roddenberry with two outs. A Flynn Angly single then loaded the bases, but Paul got Nick Bisplighoff to fly out to center to end the inning.
"I was working too fast in the first inning," Paul said. "I usually get those first inning jitters and I just have to work through it."
He helped his own cause in the bottom of the first. Paul drove in Johnny Karaphillis with a one out single to tie the game. He then broke the game open in the third with a hit-and-run single that scored both Karaphillis and Derek Gibree.
With Paul cruising along on the mound, his teammates got plenty of insurance runs in the fourth inning. The Marauders scored six runs, all with two outs, to take an eight run lead.
-- The Tampa Bay Times contributed to this report