DUNEDIN — Countryside and River Ridge opened the 45th Annual Dunedin Spring Tournament as first-round opponents for the third time in four years.
After being relegated to the loser’s bracket by the Cougars in 2011 and 2013, River Ridge redeemed itself with a 4-1 win Tuesday evening.
Starter Jason Heinrich (6-0) earned the victory after battling through four up-and-down innings. Despite loading the bases with one out in the first and putting runners on base in each of the first four innings, Heinrich did the important job of keeping Countryside off the board.
“He wasn’t really sharp,” River Ridge coach Jack Homko said. “He threw around 85 pitches in four innings, but he did battle. He was more of a thrower than a pitcher, but he’s 6-0 now and I can’t really complain about it.”
How the top of the first played out ended up being a recurring theme for Countryside (9-5). The Cougars stranded a small classroom on the base paths, going 2-for-10 with three walks with runners in scoring position while leaving 11 runners on.
Countryside starter Christian Townsend (3-3) again received little help from his offense and defense.
River Ridge (10-3) jumped out to a 2-0 first-inning lead with an assist from the early evening sun. Countryside right fielder Jack Skantze lost Tyler Hawks’ two-out fly ball, setting up Michael Pineda’s eventual two-run base hit to right-center.
Heinrich, who tossed nearly 40 pitches in the top of the first, lasted just four innings before giving way to reliever Rocco Iervasi. Similar to Heinrich, Iervasi worked out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in his first inning of work before earning the save.
River Ridge tacked on two more insurance runs in the sixth, getting RBI singles from Iervasi and right fielder Jack Burke.
Countryside loaded the bases for the third time in the seventh but was only able to come away with an unearned run.
River Ridge moves on to play Bradenton’s Inspiration Academy (13-3) tomorrow at 5 p.m.
“I don’t know much about Inspiration Academy, so it’ll be interesting,” Homko said of the first-year school that plays baseball independently.
Countryside falls into the loser’s bracket and doesn’t play again until Thursday night at 8 p.m. against the loser of Wednesday’s Calvary Christian v. Dunedin-Lakewood loser.
In the other 5 p.m. game Tuesday, Osceola took care of Pinellas Park, 11-4. The Warriors play at 5 p.m. tomorrow against Canterbury.
Pinellas Park will play Thursday at 5 p.m. against the Tampa Bay Christian v. Clearwater Central Catholic-Tarpon Springs loser.
Tuesday’s 8 p.m. games featured CCC v. Tarpon Springs and Lakewood v. Dunedin.
The entire tournament scheduled had to be pushed back a day because yesterday’s rainy weather. Friday’s championship game is not rescheduled to take place at 8 p.m. on Saturday.
WP – Jason Heinrich (6-0)
LP – Christian Townsend (3-3)
Christian Townsend – L, 6.0 IP, 4 R, 3 ER, 6 H, 7 K, 3 BB, 1 HBP – 1-for-3, 1 BB
Zach Taylor – 1-for-1, 3 BB
Jack Skantze – 3-for-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 SB
Jason Heinrich – W, 4.0 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 6 K, 4 BB – 1-for-3, 1 R
Michael Pineda – 2-for-2, 1 RBI, 1 BB
Rocco Iervasi – S, 3.0 IP, 1 R, 0 ER, 4 H, 2 K, 1 BB – 1-for-3, 1 RBI, 1 R