Saturday, Dec 20, 2014

Spring Hill 13s seek five-peat in District 6

Hernando Today correspondent


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Two streaks will collide during the best-of-three Dixie Junior Boys (age 13) All-Stars District 6 Tournament beginning at 8 a.m. today at Brooksville's Ernie Wever Youth Park.

Only two teams will be represented: Spring Hill and Brooksville.

Before the first pitch is hurled, both teams have already qualified for the Junior Boys State Championship beginning July 20 in Sebring.

What's at stake is who'll be crowned district champion.

After today (weather permitting), the second-round game is set for 10 a.m. Sunday.

The if-necessary third game is penciled in for 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Spring Hill is seeking its fifth straight district championship under its fifth different head coach.

The West Hernando County club has captured six of the last seven district titles in this age group - under seven different skippers.

Since 2001, Spring Hill has posted a combined 28-12 (70 percent) won-lost mark in District 6 tilts.

The 2013 Spring Hill Junior Boys All-Stars feature: 3B/C/P Dakota Blevens, 1B/P/RF Reagan Chapman, SS/C/P Joey Delgatto, OF/C Andrew Dellea, 3B/SS/2B Michael Errerup, 3B/RF Zach Funkhouser, 1B/P/CF/C Jonathan Gates, LF/P/C Alex Hoover, 2B/LF/RF Jason Kirkpatrick, 2B/P Ryan Lotito Jr., SS/P/C Dalton Mosser, SS/LF/CF/P John Oliveira and 1B/DH Domenick Rado.

Twelve players typically make up the roster, but Dellea was activated when Chapman recently broke his ankle.

The West Hernando club will be led by first-year skipper Ryan Lotito and assistant coaches Randy Mosser and Mike Rado.

Counting Chapman, four other members are returning AAA Majors (ages 11-12) All-Stars from 2012 including: Lotito Jr., Blevens, Kirkpatrick and Rado.

On his initial impressions, "This is a tremendously talented group," said Coach Lotito. "We had over 100 13-year-olds to choose from. We carefully picked this roster based on their athleticism and baseball skills."

Offensively, "We've got a good balance of contact hitters and power guys," noted Coach Lotito. "When we scrimmaged the Spring Hill 14s, we scored 10 runs off those guys - and they have some pitchers.

"We've got some guys who can bunt and hit and run. I definitely think we can handle the sticks."

On the bump, "We could use any one of 10 guys as a pitcher," detailed Lotito. "We probably have four number ones. Because of that kind of depth, we'll have a short leash. If someone gets in any trouble out there, we can easily go to someone else."

Coach Lotito identified the southpaw Gates and right-handers Mosser, Delgatto, Oliveira and Lotito as potential starters.

"We ask all pitchers to do two things," emphasized Coach Lotito. "First, pound the zone. Secondly, get ahead and stay ahead of the batters with strike one."

Defensively, Spring Hill can utilize any one of six backstops including: Delgatto, Mosser, Gates, Blevens, Hoover or Kirkpatrick.

"Again we have some depth in a critical position," noted Coach Lotito. "This group of guys gives us flexibility and versatility. Our main guy will be Delgatto. He's a wall back there, who has a gun for an arm."

Look for Lotito Jr. to open at second base with Mosser at shortstop.

"Those two guys work well together," noted Coach Lotito.

The backups are Errerup and Delgatto.

Rado, "at nearly 6-foot," is expected to open at first base with the scrappy Blevens at third. Gattes could also see time at first.

In the outfield, Coach Lotito has penciled in Oliveira in center, saying "he's got a strong arm and is not afraid to lay out for the ball."

Funkhouser in right "has a strong arm and can go get it," while Hoover, Dellea and Kirkpatrick split time in left field.

On opening up the tourney with an early-morning first pitch, "It's definitely something that could affect us," explained Coach Lotito. "That's why we have a curfew in place for the guys on Friday; they'll need their rest."

On clashing against Brooksville, "We played them during the regular season," he said. "They had a mixture of 13s and 14s. Trust me we won't be going in underestimating anybody.

"Winning the first game is extremely critical," termed Coach Lotito on the virtues of capturing Game 1. "We have to find a way to do it."

On his team's greatest concern, "We have to be 150 percent supportive of everybody on the team," detailed Coach Lotito. "You have to pick up your teammate if he strikes out or overthrows a cutoff man. To be a good leader, we have to be able to pick each other up."

Unlike Spring Hill, the Brooksville nine seeks a role reversal in this age division.

Brooksville has had difficulties recently even filling a 13-year-old all-star squad. It hasn't fielded a team in five of the past seven seasons.

Compounding matters: Since 2001, Brooksville is a combined 6-14 (30 percent).

The last Brooksville District 6 title in the 13s was 11 years ago under Mike Bennett.

This year's Brooksville Junior Boys All-Stars feature: 1B Ryan Becker, OF William Chafin, P William Coffee, CF Tavis Drake, P/C Patrick Dresser, 2B Christopher Griffin, OF Hayden Griffith, OF Adorian Holland, P/OF Michael Lineberry, 3B/P John Schiele, P/SS Wyatt Stewart and C Justin Wilson.

Head coach Jason Wilson will guide the reins assisted by Mark Griffith and Jamie Stewart.

Brooksville returns six AAA Majors All-Stars from 2012 including: Becker, Coffee, Drake, Dresser, Stewart and Wilson.

On his initial impressions, "I know every kid or have been involved coaching against every kid except one," noted Coach Wilson. "We've got some free spirits on this team. The key is for the kids to buckle down come tournament time."

Offensively, "It'll be a fast-paced game for us," detailed Coach Wilson. "We also have 3-4 guys who can go yard and we've got guys who can go gap-to-gap."

In the arms race, "I think we've got two solid number ones in Dresser and Coffee and four other guys that would be considered twos or threes. We stress to our pitchers, don't let up on your curveball, otherwise it could go deep.

"Dresser can throw three pitches and has some athletic ability," described Coach Wilson. "Coffee can also throw 3-4 pitches for strikes including a knuckleball. Both these guys are football players who also play baseball."

Coach Wilson believes his son Justin and Dresser are a solid 1-2 punch behind the plate.

"Justin's not a big guy, he's smaller but he's a baseball-smart kid," detailed his father. "He knows what to do if he gets the ball. I'm telling you most baserunners won't drift too far off the bag with him back there.

"Patrick (Dresser) could fill in at any time. He's just as good in blocking the ball," added Coach Wilson.

Expect Griffin, "who has a solid glove and arm," to open at second base with Drake or Coffee slated to fill in.

At shortstop, Wyatt will start though Stewart will also see plenty of playing time.

"There's no option at who we'll play at first - that's Becker," explained Coach Wilson. "Justin can always fill in there, too."

Schiele, "who's got a good glove," will open at third base.

"The outfield is one of the best I've ever had," noted Coach Wilson.

Look for the fleet-footed Drake to anchor center with Lineberry, Griffith, Chafin and Coffee to split time between right and left field.

On the significance of Game 1, "We can't downplay it," shrugged Coach Wilson. "We're going to be there in the cage at 6:45 a.m. It means that much to us.

"I've told the kids it really doesn't matter who we play, there's not a team out there that can't be beaten on any given day," he said. "The main thing is we have to want it more."

On the matchup against Spring Hill, "They're an interleague demon. Winning Saturday makes it a two-game tournament," Wilson said. "Two of our goals include winning a district and preparing for states.

"Spring Hill knows us and we know we want to spoil their (district) dreams," added Coach Wilson. "It would be cool to raise a district championship banner at our place. The only concern I have is the lack of scrimmage games we have coming in."

At a Glance

What - Dixie Junior Boys (age 13) All-Stars District 6 Tournament.

Who - Spring Hill and Brooksville in a best-of-3 series for the district championship.

Where - Ernie Wever Youth Park. Defending champion is Spring Hill.

When - Saturday through Wednesday.

At Stake - Both teams will advance to State Tournament beginning July 20 at Sebring.

2013 Spring Hill Junior Boys (age 13) All-Stars


2 Ryan Lotito* 2B/P

7 Dalton Mosser SS/P/C

8 Alex Hoover LF/P/C

9 Zach Funkhouser 3B/RF

10 Jonathan Gates 1B/P/CF/C

11 Jason Kirkpatrick* 2B/LF/RF

12 Joey Delgatto SS/C/P

15 John Oliveira SS/LF/CF/P

18 Andrew Dellea OF/C

21 Reagan Chapman* 1B/P/RF (injured/broken ankle)

24 Dakota Blevens* 3B/C/P

27 Domenick Rado* 1B/DH

99 Michael Errerup 3B/SS/2B

* Denotes 2012 AAA Majors All-star

Head Coach - Ryan Lotito

Assistant Coach - Mike Rado

Assistant Coach - Randy Mosser

2013 Brooksville Junior Boys (age 13) All-Stars


00 Adorian Holland OF

1 Tavis Drake* CF

3 Justin Wilson* C

6 William Chafin OF

8 Hayden Griffith OF

9 Patrick Dresser* P/C

11 Ryan Becker* 1B

13 Wyatt Stewart* P/SS

28 Christopher Griffin 2B

34 William Coffee* P

77 Michael Lineberry P/OF

99 John Schiele 3B/P

* Denotes 2012 AAA Majors All-star

Head Coach - Jason Wilson

Assistant Coach - Jamie Stewart

Assistant Coach - Mark Griffith

By the Numbers: Brooksville Junior Boys (age 13) District 6 Results (2001-12)

- Compiled by TONY CASTRO


2001 0 2 .000 Ray Croft

2002$+ 3 2 .600 Mike Bennett

2003 1 2 .333 Don McElroy

2004 1 2 .333 Tom Williams

2005 0 2 .000 Mike Peters

2006 NO TEAM

2007 NO TEAM

2008 NO TEAM

2009 0 2 .000 Darren Niethammer

2010 NO TEAM

2011 1 2 .333 Jimmy Kimbrough

2012 NO TEAM

TOTALS 6 14 .300 -7-

By the Numbers: Spring Hill Junior Boys (age 13) District 6 Results (2001-12)

- Compiled by TONY CASTRO


2001 1 2 .333 Craig Schreiber

2002 3 2 .600 Mike Gomez

2003 3 2 .600 Doug DeRespris

2004 3 2 .600 Jim Nicolini

2005+ 2 2 .500 Terry Forgach

2006$+ 3 0 1.000 Rob Owens

2007$+ 3 0 1.000 Mike Sollazzo

2008 0 2 .000 Joe Abbadessa

2009$+ 2 0 1.000 Jim Keith

2010$+ 3 0 1.000 Vito Tambasco, Sr.

2011$$= 3 0 1.000 Jeff Hamilton

2012$+ 2 0 1.000 Shawn Laferty

TOTALS 28 12 .700 -12-

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