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Estero pitchers armed, healthy and dangerous entering Class 5A state semifinals


1:00 AM, May. 19, 2013 EDT

When Estero High pitchers Zeke Pietrzyk and Brian Boocock look back on the last few months, the last few weeks, even the last few days, it boggles their minds.

"Unbelievable," Boocock said.

"Not expected," Pietrzyk added.

They couldn't see this being the first time the Wildcats would make it the FSHAA State Baseball Tournament.

Who could blame them?

Just too many things went wrong.

From summer to fall to the start of the 2013 season, Pietrzyk and Boocock were hurting.

Arm injuries. Low pitch counts. Team struggles.

But Estero pitching coach Troy Beall kept telling them, "When you're healthy, we're gonna be fine."

He was right.

Pietrzyk and Boocock felt better and so did the Wildcats. After an 8-7 start, they've won 12 of 14 games, including 2-1, 3-0 and 3-2 regional triumphs over Cape Coral, Cypress Lake and Plantation American Heritage, respectively, which has put them in the state tournament and just two wins from one of the more improbable championships you'll see.

"Their presence gets everyone going and everyone feeds off them," Beall said. "We're playing in the Battle For The Border at Terry Park a week before districts. Against Seacrest, Zeke separates his non-throwing shoulder, it pops out of place. When that happens, he gets light-headed. He was supposed to pitch the next day. Against Barron Collier, we played awful, the worst game we played all year. There was no life.

"It shows how important they are."

Rehabbing arms

Pietrzyk's elbow started bothering him in the fall. Doctors noticed a lot of swelling in that area so he took a break in November and December.

When he still had problems, the lefty started a throwing program.

Boocock did the same thing as he tried to strengthen an inflamed right labrum that had been bothering him since the summer.

"I rested it but it never felt right," he said.

Estero coach Frank Turco called it spring training during the regular season.

Both started with pitch counts of 30.

"They had a strict throwing program," Beall said. "We were getting frustrated but we stuck with it."

Pietrzyk (7-2, 0.82 earned run average) has thrown just 51 13 innings, while Boocock (5-2, 0.54 ERA) is at 38 23.

That means they're fresh, a big reason they threw gems in the wins over Cypress Lake and American Heritage. Turco said Pietrzyk's outing against one of the best prep teams in the country was one of the best he's ever seen, while he said Boocock did an incredible job of battling against Cypress Lake.

While Pietrzyk throws more change-ups, Boocock throws more fastballs. However, both are quick workers, which coaches said has helped Estero's fielders.

The 6-foot-7 Boocock will get the start Wednesday in the Wilcats' state semifinal against St. John's Creekside.

"All I'm worried about is getting the ball to Zeke for the following night," said Boocock, who'll attend South Carolina Upstate.

If that happens, Estero's magical season will take another wild turn.



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