Scott's return and Fagler's grit lead Plant in semifinal win
|Plant senior Connor Scott is all smiles after his third inning home run in the Panthers district semifinal win. After a hamstring pull kept Scott out of the lineup for three weeks, he showed no rust going 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI.|
By Jarrett Guthrie
TAMPA – It had been 19 days since Plant senior Connor Scott played in a game after pulling a hamstring in a regular season loss to Steinbrenner on April 12. The rest of the Panthers responded with five straight wins to close the season as the potential early round MLB prospect and University of Florida commit watched from the dugout.
Scott said he learned some things as he sat next to his coaches during his absence from play, encouraging his teammates and soaking up knowledge, but he was done watching Tuesday as Plant traveled to Sickles to play in the Class 8A-District 5 semifinal against Steinbrenner. Serving as designated hitter, Scott singled in the first to right field and scored the games first run. But it was his second at-bat, when Scott clobbered a first-pitch fastball over the fence in right that proved their was no rust on the Panthers’ slugger. then kept his and the Panthers season going by belting a solo home run in the third and an RBI single in the fourth as Plant earned a spot in Wednesday’s district final and a region playoff berth with a 7-2 win over the Warriors.
“It was all positive and I actually had a pretty good time the last two weeks, just slowing things down, helping out my other teammates, watching the game and just learning,” Scott said. “I was sitting on fastball first pitch, because they threw me two change-ups in my first at-bat. He left it belt high and I let it ride.”
|Plant senior Brock Fagler tossed a complete-game, striking out nine.|
“We knew what they had and (Steinbrenner) tattooed me last time out,” Fagler said. “I just executed my pitches, hit my spots and didn’t let them take advantage when they got on, and look what happened.”
Plant (21-4) junior Gabe Rincones also got in on the action with a long fly over the left field wall in the third and picked up an RBI single as well later in the win.
“As hitters we just have always go out and back up our pitcher and let Brock do his thing,” Rincones said. “We focus on quality at-bats and if we get enough of those types of ABs then we are going to score runs.”
|Plant junior Gabe Rincones is greeted by his teammates after following up on Connor Scott's home run with a solo shot of his own in the third innings.|
For Plant, Mike Haydak (run and RBI) and J.D. Urso (run) each had a pair of hits.
Plant will take on the top-seeded Gryphons on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Sickles as both teams look to take the rubber match and claim a district title.