Preview: Robinson Hosts Lakewood in Baseball Regional Semis
May 4, 2015
After a heartbreaking loss in the district championship game at Jesuit just two weeks ago, the Knights had one goal: get another shot at the defending 5A state champions. To do that, Robinson (15-10) would need a victory in their regional quarterfinal matchup at Boca Ciega. One 8-0 victory later, they seemed poised for another chance to dethrone the Tigers. Only, later that night, that chance was no longer present. In one of the biggest playoff upsets in recent memory, the Lakewood Spartans (14-14) held off a 7th-inning rally by Jesuit (19-9) for an 8-6 victory, punching their ticket to the regional semifinals. Now, with a berth in the regional finals on the line, the Knights will host the Spartans on Tuesday in their first home playoff game since 1971.
AT A GLANCE:
Team Batting Average- Lakewood: .314, Robinson: .244
Team Earned Run Average (ERA)- Lakewood: 4.29, Robinson: 1.91
Team Fielding Percentage- Lakewood: .909, Robinson: .932
Breakdown: The Spartans have a big advantage in team batting average, but it’s possible that they haven’t faced a pitching staff as potent as Robinson’s. The Knights have relied on manufacturing runs all year, playing more small ball as opposed to the power that Lakewood has displayed. That power has been necessary throughout the year as the Lakewood pitching staff has often been shaky. Both teams are steady in the field but sometimes tend to have off-innings that lead to trouble. As has been the case all year for the Knights, they’ll have to keep the defensive mistakes to a minimum to give themselves a chance to win.
PLAYERS TO WATCH (Lakewood):
Donovan Pink (’15)- It’d be wise for the Knights to pitch around Pink, or at least make sure no one is on base when he comes to the plate. The senior captain is hitting .529 with six home runs, 30 RBIs and his .657 on-base percentage leads the team.
Jamaal Chaney (’15)- If Robinson doesn’t like the idea of pitching to Pink, facing Lakewood’s other senior captain isn’t much better. Jamaal enters the game hitting .465 with a .600 on-base percentage and leads the Spartans in runs with 32.
Vincent Iacone (’15)- Vincent has unquestionably been the ace of Lakewood’s pitching staff. He has a team-high 14 appearances on the year, posting a 4-5 record and a 2.46 ERA while leading the team with 46 strikeouts.
PLAYERS TO WATCH (Robinson):
Matthew Steckel (’16)- Steckel is currently leading the Knights with a .400 batting average and a .475 on-base percentage, consistently acting as a catalyst from different spots in the order. He leads the team with 21 runs scored and is tied for the team lead in RBIs with 10.
Shawn Herron (’15)- Herron has shown signs of power this year, leading the team with two home runs. A consistent knack for getting on base has kept him in the lineup as one of the top hitters on the team. His batting average (.314) and on-base percentage (.453) both rank second on the team.
Patrick Kiszla (’15)- Kiszla is expected to get the start on the mound for the Knights in his sixth appearance of the year. An injury sidelined him for the early part of the season, but since his return, he is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA.
The Knights and Spartans meet for the right to face the winner of Sebring/Cape Coral in the regional finals. First pitch for Tuesday’s matchup is set for 7.