By:  J. Daniel Pearson

Evan Christ pitched five innings of two-hit ball and Isaiah Santiago hit a towering three-run home run in the first inning, as Harmony cruised to a 8-0 win over Osceola to claim the Class 7A, District 9 Championship on Thursday night.

The Longhorns (16-11), who also won the Orange Belt Conference Championship this year, will now wait to see who they will face in a Region 2 quarterfinal game on Tuesday.

Christ, who went to 5-1 on the season and lowered his ERA 2.03, was dominant.  He struck out nine and allowed just two walks.  Only Chris Palmi (double) and Riley Carpenter (single) reached via hit for the Kowboys—who fell to 11-12 on the season.

“He’s been a great pitcher all year for us,” Harmony coach Heath Williams said.  “What made tonight amazing was he did not have his best stuff.  He was having trouble throwing his fast ball for strikes, but he was able to hit the spot with his curve and other pitches.”

Santiago would give the Longhorns all the scoring they would need in the first.  Yathniel Matos would reach on a fielder’s choice.  With one out, Samuel Castillo walked on four pitches and Santiago would take a 2-0 offering from Josber Freitez high over the left centerfield fence for his fourth home run of the season.

Williams said Santiago had the green light, despite Freitez having trouble finding the strike zone.  “We’ve been a pretty disciplined team at the plate all year and we don’t swing at a lot of bad pitches,” Williams said.  “Even though their pitcher was having trouble with the zone, Isaiah is disciplined enough to not swing at marginal pitches.  He waited for his opportunity and connected.”

Although Osceola struggled at the plate all night, its defense kept them in the game.  

In the fifth, Harmony loaded the bases and had a chance to break the game wide open but Josh Coloma

diving catch of Santiago’s low line drive to right field ended the threat.  

But Harmony would put the game away in the bottom of the sixth.  With one on and one out, Matos tripled home a run and three consecutive walks brought in another.  With the bases still loaded, Clayton Williams slashed a two-run double and an RBI single by Anthony Medina brought home the eighth run.

Meanwhile, Osceola was not having any luck with Ismeal Rivera, who relieved Christ.  He struck out five and did not allow a hit in his two innings of relief to pick up the save.


Baseball:  Viera 4, St. Cloud 0

St. Cloud’s baseball team will have to wait to see if their 16-11 season record is enough to warrant an at-large regional win after the Bulldogs dropped a tough 4-0 decision to top-seeded Viera (14-11) in the Class 6A, District 8 Championship Game.  

Dylan Jordan and Cayden Jensen combined on a one hitter in the win for Viera.  Jordan did not allow a hit in five innings of work and the duo struck out 11 and allowed just one walk.  Sebastian Echeverry had the lone hit for St. Cloud, while Brian Wright pitched a complete game in taking the loss. 

Softball: Osceola 4, Harmony 0

Osceola scored four runs on just three hits and made it standup, as they claimed the Class 7A, District 10 championship with a 4-2 win over top-seeded and host Harmony.  Freshmen Faith Ferrer, Sam Edwards and Tenley Dawson has the Osceola RBIs, while senior Alexis Miranda allowed eight hits, struck out five and allowed two earned runs in pitching the complete game win.

Osceola (14-11) will move on to a Tuesday regional; while Harmony (11-10), who came into the game as the fifth ranked team in its region, will have to see if they garner an at-large bid.  “Based on where we were ranked, I think we have done enough to get an at-large,” Athletics Director Dan Kerr said.  

Softball:  Boone 13, St. Cloud 11

As with the Longhorns, St. Cloud (13-14) will have to wait on a possible at-large after dropping a wild 13-11 extra-inning decision to Boone in the Class 7A, District 9 Championship game played at neutral site Lake Nona on Thursday night.

In the game, St. Cloud built a 5-1 lead but Boone kept chipping away – eventually scoring two in the fifth to tie take a 6-5 lead.  The Bulldogs came up with one in the sixth to tie the game and it went into extra innings.  Each team scored four runs in the eighth to make it 10-10, but the Braves added three in the ninth and held off a St. Cloud rally for the 13-11 win.  

Senior Brooke Scott went four for five with two RBI, sophomore Addison Todd had three RBI and Grace Watford collected four hits and drove in two runs to lead St. Cloud offensively. Kalyn Woods went four for four with four runs scored for Boone.

Boy’s Volleyball:  St. Cloud 3, Poinciana 1

St. Cloud (19-6) will head to regionals this week winning the Class 1A, District 10 Championship on Thursday night with a convincing 23-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-20 win over Poinciana (13-6) on Thursday night.

St. Cloud is now 10-0 against county opposition this season.