The Panthers scored seven runs in the first three innings in the FHSAA Class 9A, Region 1 Semifinals Friday afternoon, setting the stage for a 7-3 win — and the program's first trip to a regional final since 2011.
The Dr. Phillips baseball team has weathered some interesting situations the past few weeks.
The Panthers rallied back from being down to their final out during the district tournament. They survived a 12-inning marathon in the opening round of the regional playoffs.
This week, head coach Mike Bradley and his program had to deal with a different kind of adversity. The Panthers needed to stay patient and focused as their regional semifinal game against the Boone Braves — originally scheduled for Tuesday, May 15 — was pushed back three times.
By the time the two teams finally took the field against one another Friday, May 18, for the playoff game, the squads had each had nine days of rest since they last played.
Despite that, Dr. Phillips clearly was not rusty. The Panthers scored seven runs in the first three innings, including five runs in the top of the third inning, to set the stage for a 7-3 win that advances to the program to the regional finals for the first time since 2011.
"It was just a matter of who was going to be ready to go first and we've had really good practices, despite only playing once in the last 14 days," Bradley said. "It didn't surprise me that we did that — I was hoping we were going to do that."
Will Sullivan, Brandon Fields and Hamzah Nobles each drove in two runs for the Panthers (17-13) — with Sullivan hitting the game's only home run — and the Dr. Phillips pitching staff took it from there. Starter Cort Roedig did not allow any runs in four innings on the mound, and Mitchell Stockwell followed suit by keeping the host Braves scoreless through six innings.
"They're doing exactly what they've done for us the last two years," Bradley said. "They fill it up, they throw strikes, they challenge the opposition and they get outs. They rely on the defense."
Closer Logan Bryan came on for the seventh inning to finish things out, which he did after a rocky start to the inning that saw Boone push across a trio of runs.
Now, the Panthers will prepare to face Lake Mary on the road at 7 p.m. May 22 in the FHSAA Class 9A, Region 1 Final. The winner advances to the Final Four in Fort Myers.