Not many gave them a shot last night, but the East Lake Eagles pulled off the postseason's first big upset by traveling to Sarasota High and beating the nationally ranked Sailors in extra innings, 2-1.
“What a game,” East Lake coach Dan Genna said Thursday morning. “It was phenomenal.”
The Eagles once again relied on dominant pitching to keep Sarasota's potent offense at bay long enough for their bats to come through. According to East Lake's team website, shortstop Keegan Maronpot came up with the big hit in the 10th inning, driving a double into the right-center gap that allowed Brad Deppermann to score the eventual game-winning run.
Prior to scoring the deciding run, Deppermann was on the mound for the first seven innings almost completely shutting down Sarasota. He struck out six and surrendered three hits before giving way to lockdown reliever Steven Plaskett.
Plaskett earned the victory by striking out five during his three perfect innings of work.
“Our pitching was just amazing once again,” Genna said of Deppermann and Plaskett.
The win sets up Tuesday night's fourth-and-final installment of East Lake vs. Northeast. The Vikings are 3-0 against East Lake, including last Friday's 3-2 Class 7A District 9 championship game victory.
As for last night, Genna said intimidation was not a factor after all the big games the Eagles have already played.
“We've been in so many big games the past two years – at Jesuit, CCC three times, Osceola, Durant, the Orlando tournament against Olympia,” he said. Sarasota entered last night with a distinct advantage in terms of outside accolades and praise. Baseball America listed the Sailors as its No. 20 team in the nation and USA Today had them as high as No. 9. “I told them they're going to have to play [Sarasota] sooner or later and if you're a state caliber team you've got to beat a state caliber team.”
In addition to all the big-moment prep accumulated from previous games, Wednesday night has essentially been a formality in the minds of Genna and East Lake players since the beginning of the year.
“When we found out we were going to drop from 8A to 7A, I said the state championship goes through Sarasota,” Genna said of the Florida High School Athletic Association's classification changes this year. “And if you're going to play them at Sarasota, with [coach] Clyde [Metcalf], the Godfather of high school baseball, you can't just play with them, you have to take it from them. You have to dictate what goes on from pitch one.”
Next Tuesday's game will be at Northeast High at 7 p.m. Be sure to check into www.SuncoastNews.com for the recap, postgame reactions and photographs.