Friday, Oct 31, 2014

Experienced Spring Hill squads seek return to top

Hernando Today correspondent

If location is the buzz word in the hotel and real estate circles, experience serves the same purpose in baseball.

All-Star experience in Dixie Youth League Baseball is a premium.

Today, 10 of the local area’s 11 AAA Minors All-Stars (ages 9-10) will hurdle into action with the first of five games in the expected week-long District 6 Tournament at Ernie Wever Youth Park.

The field is expected to represent five local counties including: Hernando, Pasco, Sumter, Lake and Marion.

The expected 11-team field in the double-elimination format features: host Brooksville, Wesley Chapel American, Wesley Chapel National, Spring Hill American, Spring Hill National, Bushnell, Ridge Manor, San Antonio, South Lake, Oak Griner and Wildwood.

Bushnell is the defending District 6 champion.

The eventual district champion and district runner-up automatically advance to the July 13 AAA Minors State Championship at Freeport. A third-place team may also advance at the discretion of the state director.

Over the past 12 summers, Hernando County has hoisted nine District 6 championship banners: seven by Spring Hill and two others by Brooksville.

Since 2001, Brooksville’s All-Stars have gone a combined 36-39 (48 percent) with two District 6 titles: Brooksville American’s in 2004 under Gerald Johnson and 2009’s crown under Bruce Price.

Brooksville’s AAA Minors would like to bounce back from last season’s 0-2 effort under veteran skipper Steve Piermatteo.

The 2013 Brooksville squad features: 1B/P Landon Carter, OF Perry Grant, C/2B Wyatt Harrison, 2B Evan Klukowski, P/SS Jordan Laing, OF Trenton Maner, 3B/P Jake Miller, OF Gabe Tafelski, C/SS Nicholas Talpa, 1B/P Stevie Taylor, OF Ian Varner and SS/P Dylan Weigl.

Tony Carter will guide the Brooksville nine assisted by Steve Taylor and Rick Weigl.

Coach Carter can count on four members of the team that are returning All-Stars from last summer including: Tafelski (Rookies), and Landon Carter, Taylor and Weigl (Minors).

“I’d say we have a lot of experience, not necessarily at the All-Star level, but in general baseball experience. We’ve only got one 9-year-old, the other 11 players are all 10,” explained Coach Carter. “The other thing I noticed immediately is our team speed.”

On the bump, Coach Carter believes he has two aces in his son Landon and Taylor.

“Stevie (Taylor) is a righty. He’s big and tall, and throws hard,” described Coach Carter. “He has three pitches. He just needs to be a little more consistent with his location.

“Landon (Carter) is a tall lefty,” beamed his father. “He generates a lot of velocity. The key is to keep him zoned into the strike zone.”

Coach Carter believes Laing and Weigl are also in the mound mix, adding, “I stress the same with all our pitchers, let the other team put the ball in play.”

Brooksville opens the tourney at 10 against South Lake.

“That game is extremely important,” declared Coach Carter. “It sets the tone for the rest of the tournament. To me, everything starts by winning that first game.”

As far as favorites, “You have to start with Bushnell, they put good teams on the field every year,” pointed out Coach Carter. “Same thing with Spring Hill. Those guys should be contenders.

“We don’t know much about Wesley Chapel, but they’ve been tough the last few years.”

On Brooksville’s title chances, “I feel like we can compete in every game,” Carter said. “I feel like we’re not going away easily. My greatest concern? It’s not knowing much about the other teams.

“For us to succeed, we need solid pitching and some timely hitting.”

Interestingly, the county’s lone state title in this age group belongs to the 2005 Spring Hill National team that was guided by David Smith.

Curiously, Smith’s team finished third in districts and was invited to states as an afterthought. After dropping its initial tilt in Okeechobee, Smith’s club ran the table collecting the league’s first-ever state crown.

SH National’s lone district crown came in 2001 under Tom Meier.

Last summer, SH National (3-2) finished in a tie for third at districts under Sean Fitzgerald.

This year’s SH National All-Stars feature: C/RF Noah Bedard, SS/P Adam Berry, CF/LF Cole Hallwas, 1B/P Alex Herzek, C/P David “D.J.” Jutting, 1B/P Jacob Kelly, CF/P Mason Kiloh, 2B/P Aiden Leskauskas, LF/CF Justin Leyden, LF/RF Jaxon Newhall, RF/LF Anthony Trepen and 3B/P Locke Weissman.

Jay Trepen will serve as head coach assisted by John Herzek and Eddie Leskauskas.

Trepen’s title aspirations were bolstered with eight returning All-Stars from last summer including: Kelly, Leyden, Leskauskas and Newhall (Rookies), and Berry, Herzek, Jutting and Kiloh (Minors).

“I like the fact that we have so many guys back from the Minors All-Stars, along with the guys up from the Rookies,” admitted Coach Trepen. “Plus, we’re pretty fast overall.”

In the arms race, SH National has what Coach Trepen calls three aces in Jutting, Berry and Herzek. Herzek is the lone southpaw.

“All I ask those guys to do is throw strikes,” stressed Coach Trepen. “And minimize the walks.”

Offensively, “It’s a well-rounded lineup that makes contact,” defined Coach Trepen. “We got two nice left-handed sticks in Herzek and Berry. This team can run, which will help our small ball attack. Our speed will rush the opponents into mistakes.”

SH National opens the tourney at noon against San Antonio.

“The first game is critical,” pronounced Coach Trepen. “We want to start off with a win. If you start off with a loss it’s a lot harder on the kids.”

As far as tourney favorites, “Both Wesley Chapel and Bushnell will have good teams; they have in the past,” said Coach Trepen. “We definitely believe we can play in the final if we play our cards correctly with our pitching.

“For us to be successful, if we hit the ball like we’re capable, we’ll do fine,” he said. “How far we go will be based on how well we hit.”

Spring Hill American has excelled in this age division capturing six District 6 titles including: 2002-03, 2006-08 and 2011.

The 2013 SH American team features: OF/C Owen Andress, P/INF/OF Talon Bergantino, P/OF/INF Jaren Crawford, INF/OF Riley Cullum, INF Chase Davis, C/INF/P Ryan Ebberup, P/OF/INF Quinton Hotop, OF/INF Tyler Jamieson, C/INF/P Yoskar Lopez, INF/OF/P Collin Nelson, INF/P Zeth Rodriguez and INF/OF Niko Simon.

Erik Andress will guide the fortunes of SH American. He’ll be assisted by Mike Bergantino and Mike Cullum.

One of the most encouraging signs for Coach Andress are the seven returning All-Stars from 2012 including: Bergantino, Crawford, Cullum and Hotop (Rookies), and Davis, Lopez and Rodriguez (Minors).

“Yeah, we noticed we have some experience. We’d like those guys to be the pilots of this plane,” said Coach Andress. “We also noticed how competitive this group is. Even on the first day of practice I didn’t see anybody with that deer-in-the-headlights look.”

In the arms race, “We’ve got some pretty good depth,” suggested Coach Andress. “We’ve got 3-4 guys that can throw pretty hard. We’ve also got 3-4 other guys who can keep us in ballgames.

“On the surface, I’d say Zeth, Ryan and Yoskar will do the bulk of the heavy lifting,” he added. “Quinton and Talon, who is a lefty, will eat up some innings.”

Offensively, “We’re stressing to the guys, it’s not just about getting on base, our objective is to get home,” stressed Coach Andress. “We’re pretty aggressive overall and we’ve got some good team speed. Right now, I’d prefer the guys stay with a line-drive approach to stay away from trying to lift the ball.”

SH American opens at noon against Oak Griner.

“As far as we’re concerned, the only game that matters is Saturday against the team from Marion County,” underscored Coach Andress. “The key building block is starting off on the right foot. We just want an effort that carries us through the first one and then we’ll go from there. Right now, the kids are chomping at the bit to play.”

On SH American’s title chances, Coach Andress did not skirt the issue, saying, “We have one goal – that’s to win the tournament.”

Since 2001, Ridge Manor’s AAA Minors teams are a collective 1-22 in District 6 action.

This year’s skipper, Anthony Rogers, is making his third All-Star appearance. He’d like to snap a 0-4 lifetime mark.

Rogers will be aided by assistant coaches Grady Cunningham and Tyrone Thompson.

The 2013 Ridge Manor All-Stars feature: C/P Lane Bradshaw, CF/SS Adam Corona, 3B/P Maggie Cunningham, 2B/RF Justin Johnson, RF/P Makenlee Moore, RF Coby Rasmussen 1B/RF Jacob Rice, SS/P Brady Rogers, 1B/P Jacob Russell, CF/P Trent Saltsman, LF/2B Austin Smith and 2B/P Jacob Thompson.

The East Hernando County nine returns a county-best 11 All-Stars from 2012 including: Johnson, Rice, Rogers, Russell and Thompson (Rookies), along with Bradshaw, Corona, Cunningham, Moore, Saltsman and Smith (Minors).

At a Glance

What – Dixie Baseball AAA Minors (ages 9-10) District 6 Tournament.

Who – Eleven teams in a double-elimination format featuring: host Brooksville, Wesley Chapel American, Wesley Chapel National, Spring Hill American, Spring Hill National, Bushnell, Ridge Manor, San Antonio, South Lake, Oak Griner and Wildwood. Bushnell is the defending District 6 champion.

Where – Ernie Wever Youth Park.

When – July 15-22 (weather permitting).

At Stake – The district champion and district runner-up automatically advance to the July 13 AAA Minors State Championship at Freeport. A third-place team may advance at the discretion of the state director.

2012 Final AAA Minors (ages 9-10) District 6 Final Standings


1. Bushnell 5 0 1.000 59 18

2. Spring Hill American 4 2 .667 67 37

3.(tie) Spring Hill National 3 2 .600 59 35

3.(tie) Wesley Chapel National 3 2 .600 49 46

5. San Antonio 2 2 .500 27 27

5. Wesley Chapel American 2 2 .500 46 52

7. South Lake 1 2 .333 47 36

8. Wildwood 0 2 .000 09 30

8. Brooksville-HYL 0 2 .000 08 33

8. Ridge Manor 0 2 .000 02 39

8. Oak Griner 0 2 .000 02 24

TOTALS 20 20 .000

2013 Hernando AAA Minors (ages 10-Under) All-Stars


2 Dylan Weigl* SS/P

3 Jake Miller 3B/P

4 Wyatt Harrison C/2B

6 Nicholas Talpa C/SS

21 Jordan Laing P/SS

22 Landon Carter* 1B/P

26 Perry Grant OF

34 Stevie Taylor* 1B/P

42 Ian Varner OF

44 Gabe Tafelski* OF

55 Evan Klukowski 2B

99 Trenton Maner OF

* Denotes 2012 AA Rookies or AAA Minors All-Star

Head Coach – Tony Carter

Asst. Coach – Steve Taylor

Asst. Coach – Rick Weigl

By the Numbers: Hernando AAA Minors District 6 Results (2001-12)

- Compiled by TONY CASTRO


2001A 1 2 .333 Tom Williams

2001N 1 2 .333 Tommy Ward

2002A 1 3 .250 John Maggard

2002N 1 2 .333 Gus Harrison

2003A 0 2 .000 John Maggard

2003N 2 3 .400 Gus Harrison

2004A$ 4 1 .800 Gerald Johnson

2004N 4 3 .571 Brent Young

2005A 3 3 .500 Gerald Johnson

2005N 2 3 .400 Ronnie Harvey

2006A 1 2 .333 John Frascatore

2006N 2 3 .400 Darren Niethammer

2007 2 2 .500 Kevin Kilbourne

2008 2 2 .500 Bruce Price

2009$ 6 0 1.000 Bruce Price

2010 2 2 .500 Mike Peters

2011 2 2 .500 Mike Peters

2012 0 2 .000 Steve Piermatteo

TOTALS 36 39 .480 –13–

$ Denotes District 6 Champion

A – Denotes Hernando American

N – Denotes Hernando National

2013 Spring Hill American AAA Minors (ages 10-Under) All-Stars


1 Chase Davis* INF

3 Riley Cullum* INF/OF

4 Owen Andress OF/C

7 Zeth Rodriguez* INF/P

8 Talon Bergantino* P/INF/OF

9 Quinton Hotop* P/OF/INF

13 Niko Simon INF/OF

24 Yoskar Lopez* C/INF/P

27 Collin Nelson INF/OF/P

28 Ryan Ebberup C/INF/P

42 Jaren Crawford* P/OF/INF

77 Tyler Jamieson OF/INF

* Denotes 2012 AA Rookies or AAA Minors All-Star

Head Coach – Erik Andress

Asst. Coach – Mike Cullum

Asst. Coach – Mike Bergantino

By the Numbers: Spring Hill American AAA Minors District 6 Results (2001-12)

- Compiled by TONY CASTRO


2001 2 2 .500 Mike Adams

2002$ 7 0 1.000 Bobby Pasarela

2003$ 7 0 1.000 Ed Bunnell

2004 3 2 .600 Mike Sollazzo

2005 1 2 .333 Jason Stevens

2006$ 8 1 .889 Jim Keith

2007$ 5 1 .833 Vito Tambasco

2008$ 6 1 .857 Al Sorrentino

2009 1 2 .333 Roger Gates

2010 1 2 .333 Al Blevens

2011$ 5 0 1.000 Joe Abbadessa

2012 4 2 .667 Joe Abbadessa

TOTALS 50 15 .769 –11–

$ Denotes District 6 Champion

2013 Spring Hill National AAA Minors (ages 10-Under) All-Stars


0 Aiden Leskauskas* 2B/P

1 Cole Hallwas CF/LF

2 Noah Bedard C/RF

3 Jaxon Newhall* LF/RF

4 Justin Leyden* LF/CF

6 Anthony Trepen RF/LF

7 Locke Weissman 3B/P

8 Alex Herzek* 1B/P

9 Jacob Kelly* 1B/P

11 Mason Kiloh* CF/P

42 David Jutting* C/P

77 Adam Berry* SS/P

* Denotes 2012 AA Rookies or AAA Minors All-Star

Head Coach – Jay Trepen

Asst. Coach – John Herzek

Asst. Coach – Eddie Leskauskas

By the Numbers: Spring Hill National AAA Minors District 6 Results (2001-12)

- Compiled by TONY CASTRO


2001$ 7 1 .875 Tom Meier

2002 2 3 .400 Jon Shellabarger

2003 2 3 .400 Jon Shellabarger

2004 5 1 .833 Robert Miller

2005$$ 4 3 .571 David Smith

2006 1 2 .333 Billy Beetz

2007 2 2 .500 Rich Gomez

2008 3 2 .600 John Hrobuchak

2009 4 2 .667 Shawn Laferty

2010 3 2 .600 Frank Frangione

2011 3 2 .600 Sean Fitzgerald

2012 3 2 .600 Sean Fitzgerald

TOTALS 39 25 .609 –10–

$ Denotes District 6 Champion

$$ Denotes Florida State Champion

2013 Ridge Manor AAA Minors (ages 10-Under) All-Stars


1 Makenlee Moore* RF/P

2 Austin Smith* LF/2B

3 Justin Johnson* 2B/RF

4 Maggie Cunningham*3B/P

5 Jacob Rice* 1B/RF

6 Adam Corona* CF/SS

7 Jacob Russell* 1B/P

8 Lane Bradshaw* C/P

9 Trent Saltsman* CF/P

10 Coby Rasmussen RF

11 Jacob Thompson* 2B/P

99 Brady Rogers* SS/P

* Denotes 2012 AA Rookies or AAA Minors All-Star

Head Coach – Anthony Rogers

Asst. Coach – Tyrone Thompson

Asst. Coach – Grady Cunningham

By the Numbers: Ridge Manor AAA Minors District 6 Results (2001-12)

- Compiled by TONY CASTRO


2001 0 2 .000 George Smith Sr.

2002 0 0 .000 NO TEAM

2003 0 2 .000 Jimmie Miller

2004 0 2 .000 Troy Thompson

2005 0 2 .000 Troy Thompson

2006 0 2 .000 Anthony Rogers

2007 0 2 .000 Phillip Moore

2008 0 2 .000 Candie Sullivan

2009 0 2 .000 Paul Lineberry

2010 1 2 .333 Paul Lineberry

2011 0 2 .000 John Jernigan

2012 0 2 .000 Glenn Balogh

TOTALS 1 22 .043 –9–


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