Armwood got enough hitting early and enough pitching late Thursday night, and the Hawks celebrated their first district title since 1989.
Josh Spano and Billy Farrell hit big home runs, and Tyler Alexander followed a respectable start by Sean Cramer with 21/3 scoreless innings of relief as Armwood defeated Brandon 6-4 in the Class 5A-District 8 championship game at Wharton.
"I've really tried to push these guys to do hard work, and a lot of these guys are starting to come around and understand what hard work means, and it pays off for you," Hawks coach Mike Wrenn said.
Spano staked the Hawks to a 4-0 lead in the first when he crushed a pitch over the left-field wall for a grand slam. Farrell provided another big hit the following inning with a two-run blast to left.
Cramer yielded three hits through his first four innings, but Mike Smith's towering two-run homer in the fifth cut the Eagles' deficit to 6-4. After Cramer walked the next hitter, Wrenn gave the ball to Alexander, who closed the door by allowing two base runners the rest of the game - both on walks - while striking out five.
6A-7: North's slam lifts Gaither to title
CLEARWATER - Two years ago, then-freshman Brady North lined out to center field for the final out in Gaither's 6-0 loss to Alonso in the Class 6A-7 district finals.
He wasn't going to let it happen again.
Thursday at Countryside, North hit a grand slam with two out in the top of the seventh inning to lead the Cowboys to a 5-3 victory against the Ravens to win the district championship.
"I got some redemption tonight," North said. "I was looking for a curveball and got one. I saw six or seven the last time I faced him. He threw me a fastball the pitch before so I was expecting him to come back with the curve ball."
North's game-winning blast came off reliever Tyler Ding. Ding struck out the first two batters in the inning but walked Justin Delgado, who went to third on Mike Danner's single to right. Drew Doty was hit by a pitch to load the bases. North hit the 2-1 curveball well over the right-field fence.
But Alonso wasn't done yet. The Ravens (26-3) got a lead-off walk from Tito Martinez off Gaither closer Dylan Hathcock to start the bottom of the seventh and immediately stole second. One out later, Casey Smit walked and Matt Brandy singled to load the bases. But Hathcock got a strike out and a fly to center to end the game.
The win for Gaither (22-6) was the first in four chances this year against the Ravens. The Cowboys lost both district meetings and in the finals of the Saladino Tournament,
"I guess instead of the third time being a charm, it was four," said Gaither coach Frank Permuy. "These guys are young and inexperienced. It means a lot to them. I'm so happy for them."
Gaither will host Durant in the region quarterfinals on Tuesday while Alonso will travel to Lakeland. This is Gaither's fourth consecutive region appearance.
6A-8: Lakeland downs Durant 4-1
GIBSONTON - Lakeland pitcher Josh Lucas said his team hit a slump late in the year. At 18-0 in mid-April, the Dreadnaughts dropped two straight games for the team's only losses on the season.
Lucas said it took the whole team refocusing to get back on track and in Thursday's 6A-District 8 title game at East Bay, Lucas led a Dreadnaught squad that looked slump-free as Lakeland defeated Durant 4-1.
Lucas certainly looked focused, allowing only three hits while striking out four.
The Cougars' lone run came on a sacrifice fly by Ruben Garcia in the fourth inning.
5A-10: Jesuit, Plant make title game
It wasn't pretty, but Jesuit pitcher Daniel Gibson battled out of jams all night to lead the Tigers into the 5A-District 10 final with a 2-1 win over Leto.
The Tigers will face Plant, which knocked off Hillsborough, 5-3 in the opener at Jefferson High.
Gibson allowed only back-to-back hits in the fourth inning, but he worked his way out of a bases-loaded situation and allowed his only run of the game. The Tigers committed an error, and Gibson walked four batters and hit another while registering one strikeout, but he survived and retired the final seven batters he faced.
Greg Dupell accounted for all of Jesuit's runs with a home run in the fourth.
Leto scored its run in the fifth when P.J. Leto was hit by a pitch to bring home a run.
Plant jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first game. Plant pitcher Mychal Givens let the first two Hillsborough batters on base, then struck out six in a row before faltering in the fourth. Plant took its lead when Jake Lowe led off the second with a double and scored on a bloop single from Stan Rowe. Joe Hudek hit the next pitch over the right-field fence to give Plant a 3-0 lead.
5A-7: Wesley Chapel wins 1st district title
NEW PORT RICHEY - A day removed from upsetting top-seeded Land O' Lakes, Wesley Chapel rode the arm of Jeremy Thompson to pick up its first Class 5A-District 7 championship by blanking Brooksville Central, 7-0.
Thompson, aided by some fantastic glove work behind him, tossed a complete-game, three-hit gem. Central did not advance a runner past second base.
The Wildcats will host Brandon in the region quarterfinals.