BUSHNELL - Bushnell utilized an alternate approach to repeat as District 6 AAA Majors (ages 11-12) All-Stars champion Saturday at the Kenny Dixon Sports Complex.
Last year, the Sumter County nine roared through districts and states to eventually hoist a World Series title.
This time, skipper John Adams' heavily favored Bushnell nine and faced some adversity.
After blasting Ridge Manor in the tourney-opener, 25-1 (3 innings), Bushnell was upset by San Antonio on Tuesday, 7-4.
Despite facing elimination in the double-elimination formatted event, Bushnell (5-1) pieced together four straight victories - highlighted by a doubleheader sweep Saturday evening over previously unbeaten Brooksville (4-2) to reclaim the week-long event's title, 8-4 and 14-1 (6 innings).
In Saturday's third-place game, San Antonio (4-2) rallied for a come-from-behind nod over Bushnell American (2-3), 13-8.
As a result, four of District 6's 10 teams will advance to the July 6 AAA Majors State Championship in Arcadia.
"Since the loss, our guys were a lot more patient (at the plate)," declared Coach Adams, whose team out-hit Brooksville in the twin bill, 22-8. "We couldn't let pitchers dictate what was going to happen.
"As a team we also played relaxed," added Coach Adams. "We subbed in guys where we needed to and our defense never hurt us. Today we received two well-pitched games. (Hector) Arredondo pitched well in the first game and (Matthew) Tadlock closed things out for us in both games."
On the keys to the doubleheader sweep, "We knew we had to score some runs," explained Coach Adams. "And our pitchers were solid. Arredondo is a guy you can count on every game; he's a guy who comes through.
"And watching Tadlock was a lot of fun today. It was like playing with a toy. Wherever we called a pitch, he'd locate it perfectly."
From the opposing dugout, Brooksville skipper Pat Garland was searching for a silver lining to the Bushnell ambush, saying, "Mentally, I don't know where our kids' heads were at. I think a lot of the guys, thought we'd just show up and win.
"This might be the best thing to happen to us. This might be a great wake-up call," pointed out Coach Garland. "For four games we hit the ball, and then the heart of our order didn't show up. We had a chance late in Game 1 to make things interesting."
On reaching states, "I thought we were first- or second-best team in the tournament," noted Coach Garland. "Bushnell won because they're so deep in pitching; they've got it all.
"I thought we looked tired (at the end); I'll look at our conditioning over the next couple of weeks."
???Bushnell forced a winner-take-all final with a 10-hit Game 1 barrage against four Brooksville hurlers.
For the winners, Arredondo went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer off Austin Miller in the first inning along with a RBI single in the five-run fifth.
Cameron Ciulla, who lined into a 5-4-3 double play in the fourth, crushed the first pitch offered by William Garland for a two-run homer down the right-field line in the fifth.
Cason Adams, who scored two runs, chipped in a RBI double in the third off Dalton Black.
Dalton Black was the offensive leader for Brooksville finishing a game-high 3-for-3. Black doubled and was stranded in the first inning off Arredondo.
In the fourth, Black blasted Arredondo's first offering over the left-center field fence. He added an RBI single in the fifth.
In a three-run fifth inning rally, Devon Goncalves and Dylan Black both coaxed bases-loaded free passes before Coach Adams opted for Tadlock.
Inheriting a precarious two-out, bases-loaded situation, Tadlock fanned William Garland looking.
Tadlock, a hard-throwing righty, retired the Brooksville nine in order in the sixth. He finished with three strikeouts.
In the doubleheader nightcap, Tadlock, Brandon Farmer. Arredondo and Ciulla each rapped two hits to pace the 12-hit attack against seven Brooksville hurlers.
Tadlock, who finished 2-for-2 and scored a game-high four runs while celebrating his 13th birthday, cracked a 1-2 pitch by Carson Lashley over the 180-foot fence in center field for the first of four Bushnell homers in the first frame.
Ciulla, who homered in the first game, slammed a 1-0 Lashley pitch over the center-field fence for his second homer in two games. After the solo blast, Ciulla added a two-run single in a seven-run, six-hit fifth-inning uprising.
Farmer finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored highlighted by a solo homer off Gonclaves in the fifth.
Caleb Graham, who tied Ciulla with a game-high three RBI, launched a titanic two-run homer to left off Dalton Black in the fifth and forced home a run with a bases-loaded walk in the four-run sixth.
Brooksville wasted a golden offensive opportunity in the first inning off Zach Varnum, stranding the bases loaded when Alex Kraft flied out.
Varnum lost his shutout bid when Javier Bonilla cracked a one-out, solo homer in the second.
Varnum earned the mound win working the first two frames allowing one run on three hits and two walks against two punch outs.
Coach Adams replaced Varnum with Tadlock, who twirled four scoreless innings of relief.
Tadlock faced 16 batters allowing only a single to Miller, one walk and one hit batter while fanning 10. In a sterling performance, Tadlock fanned the side in the third, fourth and fifth innings.
"I felt good today," said the 13-year-old Tadlock. "When your offense scores a bunch of runs, it makes it a lot easier on the pitchers."
On the importance of the sweep, "We knew we had to win both. Ever since we lost to San Antonio and dropped into the loser's bracket, we knew we couldn't lose again," stressed Tadlock.
Arredondo had the best seat in the house behind the dish catching Tadlock.
"He (Tadlock) was throwing gas," said the 12-year-old Arredondo. "Coach (Adams) had told us before the game to just relax and play our game. He said if we won, it would be a memory."
On his four hits against Brooksville, "I felt real comfortable (at the plate)," admitted Arredondo. "Winning districts never gets old. This is my second."
"Going into the game there was some pressure," described the 12-year-old Ciulla. "We just had to relax. We swung the bats and pitched real well."
Across the six-game event, Brooksville was led offensively by Dalton Black (10-for-19, .526, nine runs scored and two homers), Bonilla (6-for-12, .500, five runs, two homers), William Garland (8-for-18, .444, nine runs, two home runs) and Lashley (5-for-13, .385, eight runs, three homers).
On the bump, Lashley stood out with a fine four-inning effort Thursday against San Antonio and superb complete-game victory Friday night over Bushnell American.
???Spring Hill National didn't make it to final day of the tournament. The West Hernando club finished 2-2, dropping a pair of agonizing one-run losses to Bushnell American.
"This was the most (emotionally) draining week of my life," pointed out SH National mentor John Lambert. "We learned we could compete with anybody in this tournament. It was a gut-wrenching experience. This was tough; we lost two games in the last inning.
"Our biggest lesson? That there are no guarantees in baseball," said Coach Lambert. "It's a cruel game. You have to go out and earn everything you get.
"Overall, I thought the team performed better than I could've imagined."
SH National opened the tournament with a 7-6 loss to Bushnell American. American won when Reagan Huden gave up a two-run homer in the sixth.
"She was the most devastated kid in the dugout," noted Coach Lambert. "I had absolutely no doubts in putting her into protect a one-run lead."
Pedro "P.J." Moss and Kyle O'Keefe led the Hernando County crew with 3-for-3 efforts at the plate. Moss scored a run and drove in a run.
O'Keefe smacked two singles and a double, scored twice and drove in a run.
Joey Hopper finished 1-for-3 including a three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth to give SH National its last cushion, 6-5.
In its second-round game, SH National thumped Ridge Manor in 2½ innings, 17-0.
Starting pitcher Bryce Holmes departed after the first inning, ahead 14-0. He allowed one hit and one walk against two strikeouts.
Alex Renke and Sydney Sauto each hurled an inning of relief. They combined forces, not allowing any hits and one walk against five strikeouts.
SH National eliminated South Lake for its second straight win, 18-8 (4 1/2 innings).
Hopper led the hit parade going 3-for-4 with two homers, two runs scored and five RBI. Hopper's grand slam in the bottom of the fifth closed the books on the mercy-rule shortened game.
O'Keefe also went 3-for-4, all singles, with three runs scored and one RBI.
Moss stayed hot going 2-for-2, plus two walks and two runs scored.
In the fourth-round game, Sauto was tagged with the loss as a two-out groundball to second base was thrown to first base. But the ball ticked off the first baseman's glove allowing two Bushnell American runners to score to seal another pulsating 7-6 walk-off victory.
Kyle Mandes started on the hill and hurled 97 pitches in five innings, earning a no-decision.
Mandes scattered four runs on five hits and walked two against a tournament-high nine strikeouts.
Huden failed to retire any of the two batters she faced in the bottom of sixth giving way to Sauto.
Sauto had given SH National the lead behind a dramatic two-out, two-run homer in the top of the sixth.
Huden finished with a 3-for-3 effort at the plate behind three singles.
Dylan Lambert also finished 3-for-3 with a double, one RBI and one run scored.
Moss, who opened the tournament 8-for-8, finished a team-best 8-for-10. In Game 4, he finished 1-for-3 with two runs scored.
Dixie AAA Majors (ages 11-12) All-Stars District 6 Tourney Recap
at Bushnell's Kenny Dixon Sports Complex
Wesley Chapel 13, South Lake 3 (6 Innings)
San Antonio 14, Oak Griner 3 (5)
Bushnell National 25, Ridge Manor 1 (3)
Bushnell American 7, Spring Hill National 6 (6)
South Lake 8, Oak Griner 5
Brooksville 18, Wildwood 0 (3)
Spring Hill National 17, Ridge Manor 0
San Antonio 8, Wesley Chapel 2
Brooksville 15, Bushnell American 6
Spring Hill National 18, South Lake 8 (6)
Wesley Chapel won by forfeit over Wildwood
San Antonio 7, Bushnell National 4
Bushnell American 7, Spring Hill National 6 (6)
Bushnell National 5, Wesley Chapel 2
Brooksville 11, San Antonio 2
Bushnell National 6, San Antonio 2
Brooksville 7, Bushnell American 3
San Antonio 13, Bushnell American 8
Bushnell National 8, Brooksville 4
Bushnell National 14, Brooksville 1 (6)
2013 Final District 6 AAA Majors (ages 11-12) All-Stars Standings
at Bushnell's Kenny Dixon Complex
PL TEAM W L .PCT RS RA
1. Bushnell* 5 1 .833 62 17
2. Brooksville-HYL* 4 2 .667 56 33
3. San Antonio* 4 2 .667 46 34
4. Bushnell American* 2 3 .400 31 47
5. Spring Hill National 2 2 .500 37 22
5. Wesley Chapel 2 2 .500 17 16
7. South Lake 1 2 .333 19 36
8. Oak Griner 0 2 .000 08 22
8. Wildwood 0 2 .000 00 18
8. Ridge Manor 0 2 .000 01 42
TOTALS 20 20 .500
* Denotes qualified for July 6 AAA Majors State Tournament at Arcadia.