Posted: 2:37 pm Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Palm Beach State baseball headed to junior college state tournament 

By Matt Porter

Led by locals as usual, Palm Beach State is still in the hunt for a junior college state title.

After edging Brevard College 3-2 in a best-of-five conference tournament series ending April 20, the Panthers (34-18) open the double-elimination state tournament against St. John’s River State 10 a.m. Friday at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland.

PBSC will likely start ace J.D. Underwood, a sophomore out of Palm Beach Gardens High. Underwood, who has committed to Miami, was named Southern Conference pitcher of the year after going 8-2 with a 1.66 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 92.1 innings. He walked just 12 batters. He also hit .367 with three homers and a team-high 47 RBI.

Underwood, the son of former major leaguer Tom Underwood, had a stretch of five complete games in a row — with 37 strikeouts in three starts — before the conference tournament.

The Panthers will also rely on two Park Vista alums. Sophomore outfielder Michael Stemle led the nation in stolen bases (47) while being caught six times and hit .372. Sophomore right-hander Ryan Pistey went 9-2 with a 2.07 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 87 innings.

The winner of the eight-team Florida College System Activities Association Region 8 tournament goes to the National Junior College Athletics Association Division I World Series, which begins May 25 in Grand Junction, Colo.

For more information, visit TheFCSAA.com.