Baseball: Season Still Alive After Knights Hold Off Jefferson

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Photo Isabel Hanewicz

After scoring the Knights’ first run, which tied the game, Mitchell Tozian (’16) takes off his helmet in celebration.

Bailey Adams, Sports Editor

After two tight regular season games with Jefferson (10-14), Robinson (15-8) expected another in Tuesday’s 6A-8 district semifinal. Expectation became reality as the Knights fended off a 7th-inning comeback on their way to a 6-3 win that clinched a spot in Thursday’s district final.

With the Knights leading 6-1 heading into the seventh, the Dragons put pressure on, loading the bases with no outs. A walk and a fielder’s choice brought them within three runs before Robinson starting pitcher Michael Tini (’16) got the final out on a hard line drive to right fielder Aaron Scott (’17).

“We lost our focus there right at the end,” Knights head coach Kevin McCray said. “That’s really all it was; we just lost our focus a little bit.”

Robinson fell behind 1-0 in the first on a double by Robby Martin (’18). From there, Tini settled in, shutting out the Dragons until the seventh inning.

The Knights tied the game at one with two outs in the second on an RBI single by Joey Scionti (’17) before adding two more runs with two outs in the third on a ground ball to short by Shawn McGory (’16) and a single by Kris Terry (’17).

“I like the way we executed early,” McCray said. “We had a couple big two-out hits that really gave us a bit of a cushion.”

Mitchell Tozian (’16) gave the Knights two key insurance runs in the fifth with a double down the left field line before Matthew Steckel (’16) drove in the team’s sixth run of the night in the sixth.

The victory earned Robinson a spot in the district finals, where they will meet rival Jesuit (21-5). The matchup will be the third of the 2016 season between the two teams as the Tigers won the first by a score of 4-3 in extra innings before winning the second 11-4 earlier this month. After struggling in the seventh inning on Tuesday night, McCray wants his team to be completely focused when it comes time to square off for the district title.

“I just want to see seven innings of complete baseball,” he said. “If we do that, we’ll be in the game with a chance to win it.”

First pitch for Thursday’s district final is set for 7 p.m. at Jefferson High School (4401 W Cypress St, Tampa, FL 33607).