ST. PETERSBURG — The night belonged to Brad Deppermann and the senior took full advantage of nearly every imaginable opportunity.
East Lake's ace pitcher set that tone immediately but did so from the batter's box, rocking the very first pitch of the night over the left-center field fence.
“You know, that's the first time all year I gave the green light on the first pitch,” East Lake coach Dan Genna said of Deppermann's leadoff homer. “Obviously he executed, and game over.”
While East Lake and Northeast still had to play out all seven innings of Tuesday's Class 7A region semifinal, of course, Deppermann's shot did end up being the eventual game-winner. The other eight runs the Eagles tacked on in their 9-0 victory essentially amounted to style points – or perhaps a season's worth of pent up frustration being released.
“Our first loss this season was at this field and we weren't going to let it be our last,” Deppermann said of East Lake's 0-3 record this year against District 7A-9 champ Northeast. “We just came in here to win.”
In addition to putting the Eagles on the board, it was all Deppermann making sure the Vikings stayed off it. The hard-throwing righty carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning and mowed down 11 Northeast batters, upping his season strikeout total to 90 over 67 innings. The three-hit shutout is the second huge performance in as many games for Deppermann. He pitched seven strong frames during East Lake's 2-1, 10-inning quarterfinal win at Sarasota High last week.
“The way he pitched against Sarasota's lineup, he was ready,” Genna said of his confidence in Deppermann. “He had that little bump where he put a couple runners on, but other than that he was flawless.”
Northeast never advanced a runner past second and only got two to that base all night. Nine-hole hitter Kobe Hartley broke up the no-hit bid in the fifth with a two-out, two-strike double to right field.
Deppermann's numbers with the bat ended up just as impressive his pitching stats. He came up a triple shy of hitting for the cycle on a 4-for-5, two-RBI night from the plate.
East Lake hadn't experienced an overall offensive outburst like Tuesday since a 9-3 Lee Byers Invitational Tournament win over IMG Academy in mid-February. The Eagles combined for 11 hits and it's the first time this season they've produced back-to-back double-digit hit games.
“We're peaking at the right time offensively and defensively,” Deppermann said. “Everything's clicking right now.”
Two other Eagles turned in multi-hit games Tuesday. Andrew Monahan's 3-for-4 night included a third-inning, two-run homer to dead center that gave East Lake and Deppermann a commanding 4-0 lead. Junior right fielder Ian Lisle went 2-for-3 with a walk and run scored.
East Lake's aggressive and effective offense forced Northeast into its bullpen earlier than desired. Starter Josh Hale exited after two innings and trailing 2-0. Three other Vikings pitchers were called upon but only managed keep East Lake off the board once, in the fifth inning. The Eagles added an unearned run in the fourth and the sixth to go ahead 6-0, then plated three more for good measure in the seventh.
The victory now sends East Lake to its third region final in school history and first since 2002's Class 5A state runner-up squad.
Northeast entered Tuesday's game riding a 17-game winning streak and trying to reach its first region final since 2006.
The Eagles will play Friday night against Melbourne High. The Bulldogs beat Stuart Martin County on Tuesday, 5-2. The game should be hosted by Melbourne because it entered regional play as a district champion and East Lake is a runner-up. As of Tuesday night, however, the Florida High School Athletic Association's Class 7A bracket listed East Lake as the host team because of its position in the bracket.
According to FHSAA Bylaw 126.96.36.199, Subsection (c): “In the regional championships, the school on the top line of the bracket in each game shall be designated the host school. If, however, the school on the top line of the bracket served as a host school in the regional semifinals and the school on the bottom line of the bracket was a visitor in the regional semifinals, the school on the bottom line of the bracket will be designated the host school for the regional final. In any case, when a district champion plays a district runner-up, the district champion always shall be designated the host school.”
EL - 112 101 3 --- 9-11-1
NE - 000 000 0 --- 0-3-2
WP – Brad Deppermann (6-3)
LP – Josh Hale (6-1)
East Lake (20-9)
Brad Deppermann – W, 7.0 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 11 K, 1 BB, 1 HBP – 4-for-5, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 2B
Andrew Monahan – 3-for-4, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 2B
Ian Lisle – 2-for-3, 1 R, 1 BB
Jesse Moeller – ND, 3.0 IP, 2 R, 0 ER, 3 H, 2 K, 0 BB, 1 IBB – 0-for-1, 1 HBP
Bret Maxwell – 1-for-3 – Defensive Catching: 2 CS
Kobe Hartley – 1-for-2, 1 2B