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Varsity Update (4/18/2008):

The IMG Academy School Varsity baseball team concluded a horrid stretch of 10 games over the last 14 days and the team can definitely say it learned a lot about adversity over that stretch.  Battling through key injuries and loss of team members for the year, the Panthers went 6-3 over that stretch and unfortunately, one of the key championship games over that time was lost to weather.

The Panthers started off the Seminole Warhawk Easter Tournament with an impressive showing against area rival Braden River High School.  IMG Academy won handily, 5-0 behind the stellar pitching of Senior, Kyle Allen.  Allen had a no-hitter with 2 outs and 2 strikes on Braden River's 8th hitter in the 7th inning until he hit a hanging slider into center field to spoil the no-hit bid.

IMG Academy advanced to the 2nd round of the Seminole Tourney and handed Berkeley Prep an 11-2 drubbing behind 5 RBIs from Junior 3rd baseman, Connor McCarthy and a solid 5 inning win behind Senior, Robbie Ratliff.  With the win, the Panthers moved on to face undefeated Seminole in the 2nd straight championship game between the two ball clubs.  IMG Academy struck first and took a 4-1 lead into the 4th inning behind timely hitting and the pitching of Sophimore, Casey Mulholland.  In the bottom half of the inning though, the Warhawks stormed back figuratively and literally to lead 5-4, bringing in thunderstorms which would eventually call the ballgame and crown both Seminole and IMG Academy co-champions.  Kyle Allen, Robbie Ratliff, and Connor McCarthy were named to the All-Tournament team.

With the semi-conclusion of one tournament came the beginning of another, hosted by Bishop Verot High School.  The Bud Roth Tournament is a national tournament which takes place at Terry Park in Ft. Myers and this year was the second year in which IMG Academy participated.  The Panthers opened the round robin format against Pleasure Ridge Park (KY), the number 1 ranked team in the state of Kentucky.  Facing Arkansas signee, Zach Cox, the Panthers trailed early in the contest, 5-0.  The Panthers mounted a rally in the 5th inning behind the 3-run home run from Sam Koonce.  But Cox regained his form to strike out 4 of the next 6 batters to lead his team to a 6-4 victory.  The Panthers were at it the next day facing 6th ranked Gainesville-Bucholz. The Panthers jumped out to an early lead and never looked back.  John Ryan Murphy led the team with 3 hits, 3 RBIs and 3 runs in his first game back from knee surgery this year.  Robbie Ratliff earned the win cruising to an 11-6 victory and the Panthers waited anxiously  or news on whether they would advance to the Championship round.  Unfortunately, only the Consolation bracket presented itself to the team and the Panthers concluded the Tournament with a heartbreaking 2-1 defeat to John I. Leonard High School, but a thrilling 6-5, come-from-behind win over Louisville Ballard in the bottom of the 7th inning.  Johnny Walylko was named to the All-Tournament team due to his outstanding effort at the plate and in the field over the 4 games played. 

In the midst of travelling up to Pinellas County for the Seminole Tournament and travelling down to Ft. Myers for the Bud Roth Tournament, IMG Academy squeezed in two home games versus Palmetto High School and Summit Christian School.  Both home games were home wins, 5-1 and 12-4, respectively.

The final week of the season brought a rubber match against nationally ranked Clearwater Central Catholic, a 2 hour drive down to Gulf Coast HS in Naples, and an opportunity to thank our 11 Seniors on Senior Day against Lakewood Ranch High School.  The week started Monday at CCC and Kyle Allen toed the rubber for the 3rd time against CCC.  On a bitter cold and windy night, Allen pitched solid and the Panthers jumped out to an early lead.  But for every punch IMG Academy threw, CCC answered back with one of their own, answering inning by inning.  The Maraunders landed a 7-4 victory taking the series from the Panthers 2-1 on the season.  With the thoughts of a game that slipped away fresh in their minds, the Panthers travelled down to Gulf Coast for their Senior Night and walked away with a 9-0 loss on a flat, error-plagued ballgame.

In essence though, all good things must come to an end, and the 2008 IMG Academy season ended in a way that demonstrated the fight and heart the Panthers showed all year.  On Senior Day, every senior in the lineup notched a hit and rode the arm of Robbie Ratliff through the 4th inning.  Then, area rival, Lakewood Ranch made things interesting by batting around and taking an 8-7 lead into the 6th inning.  Adam Choleva led off the bottom of the 6th with a single and Michael Kutch followed by reaching safely on a bunt to put runners in scoring position with one out.  Following a Jared Brooks sacrifice fly to right field to tie the game, Axel Torres drove in what turned out to be the winning run with a two-out single to center field.  Senior, Tyler Pastornicky shut the door by striking out the side in the 7th to conclude the season for IMG Academy...a season where they went 24-6 on the year.

Junior Varsity Update (4/18/2008):

The IMG Academy J.V. Baseball team travelled east to play Sebring High School at a very scenic Sebring Stadium.  The Panthers came out swinging and ended up with 13 total hits, which amounted to 10 runs.  Jack Repokis led the offense with 3 hits and Dan Kennon, Marc Culmer, Cameron Stimpson and Joe Daru each had two hits.  Kennon, Repokis and Culmer also added 2 RBI a piece.  Shay Mlakar and Jack Daru each added one hit.  On the defensive side, Cameron Stimpson pitched 4 innings, giving up 6 runs (5 earned) on 7 hits, 4 BB and 2 K's.  Dan Kennon pitched the last inning and held Sebring to 1 run on 3 hits and 1 K.  Stimpson was awarded the victory and Kennon captured the save.

Clearwater Central Catholic came rolling into Bradenton, trying to get some revenge from the last game vs. the Panther JV squad in Clearwater.  The Panthers were down the entire game, as starter Cameron Stimpson got into trouble early.  The Panthers climbed back to make it 6-5 by the 6th inning, thanks in-part to Ryan Swinney, who was 4 for 4 on the day.  Dan Kennon, Shay Mlakar, Jack Daru and Joe Daru each had a pair of hits to help Swinney lead the Panthers back to within striking distance.  And there it was, in the 7th inning, the Panthers were down by one and Shay Mlakar got things going with a leadoff double to left-center.  Jack Daru singled and Marc Culmer was intentionally walked.  That brought Swinney to the plate with one out and the bases loaded.  Swinney singled to left, scoring Mlakar and Daru and the game was over.  The Panthers celebrated in the middle of the field, as they completed the sweep of C.C.C. this year.

The JV team will conclude their season on Monday, 4/21/08, against Scarborough Pen.  Please note that this will be a double header starting at 2:30pm @ Academy Park.  The originally scheduled game on 4/22 has been rescheduled as part of the double header on 4/21.

April 1st Palmetto JV vs. IMG Academy JV

For 6 1/3 innings the IMG Academy JV squad played their best baseball of the season.  Unfortunately they played their worst for the final 2/3.  The result was a disappointing 8-7 loss to the Palmetto Tigers, avenging an earlier defeat in the season at the hands of the Panthers.

The Panthers led 7-0 with one out and nobody on in the top of the seventh.  Grant Sebastian was working on a 4-hit shutout.  When the dust settled, Palmetto had taken an 8-7 lead, due in large part to 5 IMG Academy errors.  The Panthers stranded a runner at first base in the bottom of the inning and learned a valuable lesson, "it ain't over till it's over!”

Back to the good stuff.  The Panthers scored in each of the first five innings to take a seven run lead.  Fueled by timely hitting, good base running and solid defense.  The offense was led by Dan Kennon (double), Tyler Chartrand (2 RBI), Jack Repokis (double, 2 RBI) and Vernon Trice (double, 2 BB) having collected two hits apiece.  Jack Daru showed a good eye, walking 3 times.

Grant Sebastian was the hard luck losing pitcher.  He pitched a complete game, allowing all 8 (unearned) runs.  He struck out 3 and walked 2.

April 2nd Wheaton Academy vs. IMG Academy JV

The IMG Academy JV baseball team lost their 2nd one run contest in as many days.  Wheaton Academy (Chicago, IL) defeated the Panthers 5-4 in a very intense ballgame.

The Panthers fell behind 3-0 early, and also trailed 4-1.  However, as they have all season, they showed reliance and a determined spirit to compete.  Dan Kennon and Tyler Chartrand had 2 hits apiece, while Shay Mlakar and Vernon Trice collected the only other hits for the game.  The defense rebounded from their shaky performance in the last inning of the previous game, playing solid.  The Panthers had the tying run at third base with two outs in the bottom of the 7th inning, and it appeared as though they had tied the game.  However, Jack Repokis' drive to deep left center field was caught by the centerfielder.  It was a play which mirrored that of Jim Edmonds seen so many times before!

Shay Mlakar took the loss on the hill.  He allowed 3 runs (1 earned) in 1 2/3 innings.  Tyler Chartrand pitched the middle 2 2/3 innings, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits and 4 walks.  Patrick Waugh pitched the final 2 2/3 innings, allowing only 1 hit while registering 5 strike outs.

The IMG Academy Panther varsity team has had one goal since their defeat to Seminole High School on February every game from here on out.  To the surprise of no one, the team has done exactly that in dominating, thrilling, and monumental fashion.  In a stretch of 6 games in 7 days, the Panthers continued to amaze themselves in the many different ways they went about their business in accomplishing 6 more "W"s in the win column.

Dominating -
In the two victories against area rival Southeast High School and Pennslyvania guest Wilson High School, the Panthers combined to beat their opponents by 25 runs with steady, relentless, offensive showings.

Thrilling -
In the two victories against Sarasota Christian and Parkway Central (MO) High Schools, the team showed their occasional, Jekyll and Hyde persona.  Winning by 7 runs going into Sarasota Christian's last at bat, the Panthers held onto a 1 run victory to escape with the win.  Trailing by 5 runs going into their own last at bat against Parkway Central, the Panthers showed a flare for the dramatic by plating 6 runs earning a walk-off victory and sending Parkway back to Missouri with a story of a great team from Florida they "almost" beat.
Monumental -
In a game that is still being talked about and regarded by many as the greatest game they have ever been apart of, the Panthers accepted the challenge of Oakton High School (one of the top ranked teams in Virginia).  In a game that needed extra innings to complete, the outcome was far worth the wait.  Tied at 4-4 in the bottom of the eighth, the Panther offense found themselves with the bases loaded and no outs.  The Oakton team thwarted danger by getting the next 2 outs and running the count on catcher, Cal Lambert to 2 strikes.  But then...the "play" happened.  With an 0-2 count on Lambert, Tyler Pastornicky used his head, but more importantly, his speed to steal home without the Oakton pitcher not paying close attention to his presence on 3rd base.
More recently, the Panthers have gone on to beat James Robinson (VA) and Moore Catholic (NY) handily by 17 runs combined.  Offensively, the steady bats of Tyler Pastornicky (5 home runs and .575 batting average), Logan Morello, and Michael Kutch (both hitting above .400) have paced the IMG Academy offense.  The pitching has been led by Kyle Allen (5 wins), Casey Mulholland, and Nick Castellano as starters and Tyler Pastornicky (6 saves) as the team's closer.
Records at end of week:
Varsity is now 17-2
JV is now 5-2

Tuesday March 4, 2008
Varsity vs. Palmetto

The IMG Academy Panthers cruised Tuesday night to a 13-5 victory over Palmetto High School in a rain-drenched contest.  Casey Mulholland won his 2nd game of the year throwing 4 innings and Cooper Smith closed out the game earning a 3 inning save.  Offensively, everyone on the roster got involved, but Tyler Pastornicky highlighted the evening with a double, 2-run home run and 4 RBIs.  Michael Kutch also did his part with 2 hits of his own and 2 RBIs.  IMG Academy continues on the long road Thursday down in Naples against Golden Gate High School at 7:00PM.

Thursday March 6, 2008
Varsity vs. Golden Gate

The IMG Academy Panther Varsity Baseball team won Thursday night 10-1 over Golden Gate High School.  The Titans jumped out to a 1-0 lead through the first three innings.  Eventually, the bats awoke in the 4th through 6th innings and the Panthers sat comfortably with a 9-run lead going into the last frame.  Casey Mulholland added the last run in the 7th inning with a mammoth home run to left field.  He finished the night with two hits. Axel Torres, Michael Kutch, Tyler Pastornicky, and Kyle Allen each had two as well.  Allen dominated on the mound going 5 innings, allowing one unearned run, striking out 9.  Tyler Pastornicky worked a perfect 6th and 7th to close out the game.

JV vs. Golden Gate

IMG Academy’s JV team won their second game this week, 14-3 in five innings at Golden Gate.  Shay Mlakar led the offense with three hits, including a triple and a home run.  Jack Daru and Marc Culmer also had multi-hit games, each with two.  Dan Kennon had a hit and led the defense, making great plays from the shortstop position.  Austin King, Jack Repokis, and Joe Daru each added a hit of their own for the Panthers.

On the mound, Cameron Stimpson pitched all 5 innings, scattering 8 hits for 3 Golden Gate runs (1 earned).  "Cameron matured a lot from his last outing at Lakewood Ranch," said Coach Joe Wilkins.  "He was much more focused tonight and did a great job."

Records at end of week:
Varsity is now 7-2
JV is now 3-2

Thursday February 28, 2008
Varsity vs. Lakewood Ranch

The IMG Academy Panthers beat area rival Lakewood Ranch High School 9-6 on Thursday evening.  The Panthers dominated the first 3 innings of the game scoring all 9 of their runs to establish a 9-0 lead.  Offensively, three Panthers were perfect at the plate.  Tyler Pastornicky went 3-3 with 4 RBIs and a 2-run HR.  Casey Mulholland added to the onslaught with his own 3-3 night and a 2B and Connor McCarthy followed with his own 2-run double going 2-2 at the plate.  Kyle Allen earned his 2nd win of the season breezing by 4 innings of work throwing 45 pitches, striking out 9, and allowing only one hit.

JV vs. Manatee

Missing several players due to sickness and injury, IMG Academy JV went to battle versus the elements (cold) and a good Manatee JV Hurricane ballclub.  The Panthers fell behind early, never able to apply pressure to the Hurricanes.  Manatee did not have that problem, scoring at least once every inning.  In the end it was an 8-0 defeat for IMG Academy.  The game was called due to time restrictions (2 hours max) with 2 outs in the bottom of the 6th inning. The Panther offense managed only 5 hits on the night.  Joe Daru (Double), Jack Repokis, Grant Sebastian, Cameron Stimpson and Marc Culmer each had one hit. Grant Sebastian pitched well despite taking the loss.  He allowed 8 hits and 4 earned runs in 5 innings, walking 3 and striking out 4.

Saturday March 1, 2008
Varsity vs. Miami Christian

The IMG Academy Varsity baseball team continued their winning ways with a 4-2 victory over a strong Miami Christian team Saturday at Academy Park.  A team that many in Florida consider a state championship contender, Miami Christian opened the game with 2 runs in the first inning off of starter Nick Castellano.  But from that point forward, the senior starter settled in and went 5 total innings to hold the visiting team in check and earning his first win of the season.  Robbie Ratliff worked a scoreless 6th and 7th to notch the save.  The offense again was led by the trio of Logan Morello, Tyler Pastornicky, and Casey Mulholland.  Morello had the best day going 2-3 with a go ahead solo home run in the 5th inning.  The Panthers continue this week on the road against rival Palmetto on Tuesday and Thursday against Golden Gate High School in Naples.

Interesting News:

Senior Robbie Ratliff Commits to Embry-Riddle University

Records at end of week:
Varsity is now 5-2
JV is now 1-2

Tuesday February 19, 2008
Varsity vs. Ridgewood

No team should say that they received a close call after a run-rule shortened, 10 run victory.  But after Tuesday's 17-7 win in 5 1/2 innings against Ridgewood High School, the IMG Academy Varsity baseball team walked away from the field with a bitter sweet feeling of joy.  With a much anticipated rematch against Clearwater Central Catholic on their minds this Thursday, the Panthers went about their business in lackluster fashion over the first 3 innings Tuesday afternoon.  Casey Mulholland took the hill and exited quickly after 2 innings and 6 runs given up.  Fortunately, the IMG Academy bats awoke after the 3rd inning and an offensive barrage ensued.  Logan Morello tallied 2 triples and a single to pace the scoring from the lead-off position and Connor McCarthy added 3 runs himself.  Cooper Smith came out of the bullpen for his 2nd win of the year and IMG Academy, 3-1 overall record, faces CCC for the second time this year at 3:00PM Thursday.

JV vs. Darien

The IMG Academy JV baseball team had rough start to the 2008 season, losing 8-0 to the Darien, CT Varsity.  Two Darien pitchers combined for a no-hit shut out, recording 13 strikeouts and only 4 walks.  IMG Academy starting pitcher, Grant Sebastian, had a tough first inning, giving up 4 runs, but settled in nicely for the next 4 innings, not allowing a run.  He recorded 4 strikeouts and showed great poise after the tough start.

Wednesday February 20, 2008
JV vs. Darien

The JV Baseball team bounced back on day two of the 2008 season, posting 7 runs on 9 hits against the Darien, CT varsity club. It was still not enough for the win, as Darien scored 13, but there were signs of improvement from opening day.  Ketchum Marsh and Jack Repokis each had two hits and Austin King scored a pair of runs for the Panthers.  Dan Kennon, Austin King, Joe Daru, Seth Lovely, and Shea Mlakar each added a hit of their own.

Thursday February 21, 2008
Varsity vs. Clearwater Central Catholic

In an anticipated rematch with an earlier opponent from this year, the Panthers fell short against rival Clearwater Central Catholic 9-5 on Thursday afternoon.  With 45 plus Major League scouts and college recruiters in attendance, the pressure to perform was at an all-time high.  Unfortunately, the pressure to make plays when the Panthers needed to cost them the chance to go 2-0 versus their bitter rival.  IMG Academy put 6 errors in the fielding column and stranded 7 runners in scoring position to all but neutralize a great pitching effort from starter Kyle Allen.  Allen struck out 7, giving up 5 hits and 3 earned runs in 5 2/3 innings.  Offensively, Logan Morello stayed hot at the plate gathering 2 hits, including a triple.

JV vs. Clearwater Central Catholic

After 2 exhibition losses to Darien, CT on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Panther JV baseball players travelled to Clearwater Central Catholic for what was supposed to be one of their toughest matchups of the season.  Little did they know that when it was all said and done, the scoreboard would read 17-2 and the Panthers would be taking the happy bus back to Bradenton.  Dan Kennon led the game off with a single, Shay Mlakar and Jack Daru walked, and with two strikes and two outs in the top of the first, Marc Culmer blasted a grand slam over the left field wall to give the Panthers a 4-0 lead.  From that point on, the bats didn’t stop and Shay Mlakar pitched 5 innings, only giving up 1 run on 4 hits, 9 strike outs and only 3 walks.  Dan Kennon, Austin King and Jack Daru each had three hits, while Joe Daru, Michael Xirinachs, Grant Sebastian, Vernon Trice, Seth Lovely, and Marc Culmer each had a hit of their own - Culmer’s being the first inning grand slam.  Culmer also finished the day with 6 RBI.  Patrick Waugh came in after Mlakar to close the door for two innings, allowing 1 run on 1 hit, while striking out 4.

Items of Interest

- There have been numerous MLB scouts at each of the IMG Academy games thus far this season.  High level scouting personnel (National Cross Checkers, Scouting Directors, and Regional personnel) have been present at the games following both Tyler Pastornicky and Kyle Allen.  Both of these Panthers are projected as MLB draft picks in the June Amateur Draft.
- Tyler Pastornicky was mentioned in the latest issue of Baseball America.  The Florida State commit is listed as the 91st best High School player in the US.  Perfect Game Crosschecker has Pastornicky rated as the 73rd best prospect and Kyle Allen as the 72nd best prospect in the country.  Both are listed to have improving value as the June Draft nears.

Records at end of week:
Varsity is now 3-2
JV is now 1-0

Tuesday February 12, 2008

The IMG Academy Varsity Baseball team opened their 2008 season with a 4-3 win over Boca Ciega High School in the Seminole Hitting Academy Invitational Tournament.  Offensively, the Panthers were led by Logan Morello who amassed 2 hits and 2 runs, as well as 2 hits (including an RBI triple) by Senior Tyler Pastornicky.  Timely hits by Robbie Ratliff and Michael Kutch positioned the Panthers to tie and go ahead of the Boca Ciega Pirates in the 5th and 6th innings.  Cooper Smith worked a perfect 6th inning to snatch the win in relief of Casey Mulholland.  Mulholland threw well in his first outing going 5 innings allowing 0 earned runs while striking out 6.  Tyler Pastornicky continued his quality ballgame by earning his first save of the year closing out the visitors 7th. 

Friday February 15, 2008

Game vs. Clearwater Central Catholic

Emotions ran high and low over the weekend for the IMG Academy varsity baseball team.  IMG Academy advanced to the championship game Saturday night after an exciting 4-2 win over defending 3A State Champion Clearwater Central Catholic on Friday.  Kyle Allen stymied the opposition with 8 strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings pitched.  When he wasn’t busy missing bats the defense behind him made two incredible plays to hold CCC’s offense in check, including a bases-loaded inning ending 5-4-3 double play to keep the lead at three runs in the visitor’s 3rd.  Once again the top four hitters in the line-up paced the Panthers’ offense.  Tyler Pastornicky had two hits, including a mammoth 2-run HR in the 3rd plating Sam Koonce who doubled prior driving in Logan Morello.

Saturday February 16, 2008

Game vs. Seminole

The win Friday pitted the Panthers against the host Seminole Warhawks under the lights on Saturday.  Seminole opened the game scoring three runs off of starter Robbie Ratliff and IMG Academy struggled to get going from there on out.  Seminole’s own side-arm starter held the offense to 2 hits on the night.  IMG Academy took home the 2nd place trophy with Kyle Allen and Tyler Pastornicky garnering All-Tournament Honors in the defeat.

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