Baseball: Quick Start Key for Knights in Quarterfinal Win

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Photo Isabel Hanewicz

Off a sacrifice fly by Matthew Steckel ('16), Killian McCray runs into home for the Knights' first run of the night.

Bailey Adams, Sports Editor

One year after winning its first regional championship since 1977, Robinson (17-9) is two wins away from doing it again. The Knights rode a four-run first inning to a 9-0 road win over Zephyrhills (14-14) in Wednesday night’s regional quarterfinal.

“I love the way we came out,” Robinson head coach Kevin McCray said. “The kids were excited to play and it’s one thing to be excited, but it’s another to go out and execute. We were able to do both.”

Killian McCray (’17), who finished the night with three hits and two runs scored, led off the game with a single to start an early Robinson rally. The Knights put up four runs on a sacrifice fly by Matthew Steckel (’16) and RBI singles from Kris Terry (’17), Mitchell Tozian (’16) and Joey Scionti (’17).

Michael Tini (’16) got the start on the mound for the Knights and, with an early four-run cushion, cruised through five shutout innings while allowing just four hits and no walks. Tini retired the first eight batters he faced, getting six of them to ground out.

“Michael did great,” McCray said. “He certainly did what he needed to do.”

The Knights added two runs in the second inning on a sacrifice fly by Aaron Scott (’17) and an RBI double by Steckel. After being kept in check by Zephyrhills reliever Zac McClelland (’16) in the third and fourth innings, Robinson got some help in the fifth when two runs scored on a throwing error before Austin Glasgow (’18) extended the lead to 9-0.

Robinson finished the night with 13 hits, getting multiple-hit games from McCray, Shawn McGory (’16), Terry, Tozian and Scionti.

Riley Shackowsky (’17) and Luis Feliciano (’16) each pitched scoreless innings to close out the Bulldogs and send the Knights to next week’s regional semifinals.

“[We need to] just come out excited, ready to show what we’re capable of doing, go execute to your capabilities and do that for seven innings,” McCray said. “If you can do that for seven innings, you’re going to be in every game with a chance to win.”

Robinson will now prepare for a matchup with Jesuit (23-5), who beat River Ridge 1-0 in 10 innings on Wednesday night. The game is set for next Tuesday at 7 p.m.