Thursday, Jul 24, 2014
Sports

Spring Hill American claims AAA Minors state title


Published:

Make room for another banner at the Anderson Snow Sports Complex.

This summer the talented Spring Hill American AAA Minors (ages 9-10) All-Stars made sure of that by adding state champion to their respective resumes.

The District 6 champions buried six opponents in six days to stake claim to the 23rd annual AAA Minors state championship.

The six-day, 16-team event concluded early Thursday afternoon in another time zone (Central Standard Time) - some 5 hours away from Spring Hill - at the Freeport Regional Sports Complex, with Spring Hill blanking District 6 runner-up Bushnell, 8-0.

With its second tournament crown this summer, head coach Erik Andress' crew (6-0 states, 11-1 overall) will represent Florida in the 12-team World Series opener against Texas on Aug. 3 at Laurel, Miss.

The state title was Spring Hill's second ever in this age group and first since going 7-1 and capturing states in 2005 at Okeechobee.

It also marked the Spring Hill Dixie Baseball program's ninth state title in 19 seasons and Hernando County's 11th state crown since the millennium.

As expected, Coach Andress had not come down from Thursday's pinnacle performance in Walton County.

"It (winning states) was pretty surreal. I remember starting this journey in late May when we picked our All-Stars. By chance, I happened to flip to see where we (AAA Minors) would be hosting the World Series," recalled Coach Andress. "It seemed so far away back then. I never imagined then that we'd get to this point."

Attempting to pinpoint the reasons for the team's continued success, "It feels like this group has bonded together - the players, coaches and even the parents - over the past six weeks," noted Coach Andress, who sells auto parts throughout the state when he's not coaching baseball. "That bond makes a world of difference."

Between the lines, he added, "As a team, we elevated our play at Freeport," emphasized Coach Andress. "From an individual perspective, Ryan Ebberup was outstanding again. He not only won two games - striking out a combined 18 Bushnell batters in two outings against four walks - but he played like a broken record.

"Ryan did the same thing he did in Brooksville (during the District 6 final against Bushnell)," described Coach Andress. "At the plate, he was our best hitter (finishing a whopping 13-of-18 for a team-best .722 average), too. He played at a different level from the other kids."

What Coach Andress liked most was, "Our other kids fed from Ryan's lead. Our expected top pitchers - Yoskar (Lopez) and Zeth (Rodriguez) - pitched the way we expected they would."

Amazingly, Coach Andress believed the tourney's turning point arrived in Game 1.

After Franklin County batted once, Spring Hill pulled starter Chase Davis in favor of Rodriguez.

"In practice leading up to states, Chase (Davis) earned the ball to start Game 1," recalled Coach Andress. "But in baseball, things happen. Chase struggled to find his command and just like that we trailed 6-0.

"Maybe that shaky start woke us up," recalled Coach Andress. "After that first inning we seemed to make every play defensively. Then offensively, we scored the game's final 15 runs. In my book, that come-from-behind effort forcing us to battle back was the key to our entire tournament."

Rodriguez restored order with 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. He permitted two hits and one walk against four punch-outs.

Down 6-1 after one inning, Riley Cullum clubbed a RBI double that ignited a seven-run second inning as Spring Hill never looked back.

???In Game 2 against six-time state champion Bartow, Spring Hill broke open a tight two-run cushion after four innings with five runs in the fifth and sixth innings to pull away, 14-7.

Lopez (1-0) earned the mound victory departing after three innings with a 4-2 cushion. He permitted two runs on three hits and issued one free pass against six strikeouts.

"That's the best I've ever seen Yoskar pitch," declared Coach Andress.

Ebberup earned the proverbial game ball with an outstanding 4-for-4 outing at the plate with five RBI while scoring three runs.

After the first two games, both wins, West Seminole National tallied 32 runs. In Game 3, Spring Hill hurlers, however, reduced the potent West Seminole offense to two hits as Spring Hill prevailed in 5 innings, 7-1.

Rodriguez (2-0) left after three frames ahead 6-0. He permitted one hit, did not walk a batter and fanned a pair.

At the plate, Ebberup was the game's only batter to secure two hits, finishing 2-for-3 with two runs scored.

In Game 4, Bushnell led after 3 frames, 2-1, as Zander Eastburn slammed a solo homer in the first frame and fanned seven Spring Hill batters through five.

Spring Hill rallied for a 4-3 win as Quinton Hotop rapped a key RBI single on a 1-2 pitch off Eastburn in a two-run fourth to tilt the scales.

Simon, who finished 1-for-1, lined an RBI single plating Talon Bergantino to give Spring Hill a 3-2 lead.

Davis, who finished 2-for-3, launched a RBI double in the fifth for what turned out to be the winning run.

Ebberup went the distance with a complete-game performance. He scattered five hits and two walks against nine strikeouts.

In Game 5, Spring Hill hurlers again stymied the West Seminole National bats limiting them to three hits as the West Hernando County crew won via the 15-run mercy rule after four innings, 15-0.

Rodriguez (3-0) departed the mound after three innings ahead, 14-0. He handcuffed West Seminole National to three hits and one walk against three punch-outs.

Lopez twirled the last two scoreless frames. He did not give up a hit and walked one with no strikeouts.

Rodriguez capped a brilliant day with his first-ever homer at any level. He finished 1-for-4 with a three-run homer over the center-field fence highlighting a six-run second inning. He also scored two runs.

In a 15-hit attack, Jaren Crawford went 3-for-3 with a two-run single in a five-run third frame.

Fittingly, Ebberup was on the hill in the title tilt in round six.

Ebberup (2-0) hurled his second complete game at Bushnell, yielding four hits and two walks against nine strikeouts.

Offensively, Bergantino and Hotop led the Spring Hill nine-hit attack with 2-for-3 efforts.

Bergantino's line drive off Bushnell's starting pitcher Tristan Legg's arm in the second inning sparked a four-run rally.

Davis, Ebberup and Lopez each went 1-for-3 and plated a total of three runs.

In the pivotal four-run, second-inning rally, Crawford coaxed a key bases-loaded walk, Nelson banged a RBI single and Tyler Jamieson chipped in a sacrifice fly to break the title game open.

23rd annual Dixie Baseball AAA Minors (ages 9-10) State Tourney Recap

at Freeport's Regional Sports Complex

07-13:

Calhoun County 7, East Lakeland 1

West Seminole National 16, Freeport 3 (5 Innings)

Bartow 22, Holmes County 3 (4)

Spring Hill American 15, Franklin County 6

West Seminole American 28, Port St. Joe 2 (3)

Paxton 10, Havana 0

Marianna 12, Baker County 2 (3)

Bushnell 12, Sebring 1 (4)

07-14:

Sebring 19, Baker County 1

Port St. Joe 14, Havana 3 (4)

Holmes County 9, Franklin County 4 (5)

Freeport 10, East Lakeland 9

Bushnell 6, Marianna 4

West Seminole American 10, Paxton 0

Spring Hill American 14, Bartow 7

West Seminole National 16, Calhoun County 4

07-15:

Sebring 6, Calhoun County 0

Bartow 11, Port St. Joe 0 (4)

Paxton 4, Holmes County 3

Marianna 14, Freeport 4

Bushnell 6, West Seminole American 3

Spring Hill American 7, West Seminole National 1

Bartow 11, Sebring 4

Marianna 12, Paxton 7

07-16:

West Seminole American 8, Bartow 5

West Seminole National 15, Marianna 6

Spring Hill American 4, Bushnell 3

07-17:

Bushnell 6, West Seminole American 2

Spring Hill American 15, West Seminole National 0

07-18:

(Championship)

Spring Hill American 8, Bushnell 0

2013 Dixie Baseball AAA Minors (ages 9-10) State Tournament.

at the Freeport Regional Sports Complex.

- Compiled by TONY CASTRO

PL TEAM W L .PCT RS RA

1. Spring Hill American* 6 0 .000 63 17

2. Bushnell 4 2 .667 33 22

3. Bartow 3 2 .600 56 29

3. West Seminole American 3 2 .600 51 19

3. West Seminole National 3 2 .600 48 35

3. Marianna 3 2 .600 48 34

7. Paxton 2 2 .500 21 25

7. Sebring 2 2 .500 30 24

9. Calhoun County 1 2 .333 11 23

9. Holmes County 1 2 .333 15 40

9. Port St. Joe 1 2 .333 16 42

9. Freeport 1 2 .333 17 49

13. East Lakeland 0 2 .000 10 17

13. Franklin County 0 2 .000 10 24

13. Havana 0 2 .000 03 24

13. Baker County 0 2 .000 03 32

TOTALS (16) 30 30 .500

* Advances to Aug. 3-8 AAA Minors World Series at Laurel, Miss.

By the numbers: Past AAA Minors All-Stars (ages 9-10) State Champions (1991-2013)

- Compiled by TONY CASTRO

YEAR TEAM

1991 Northeast Pensacola

1992 Northeast Pensacola

1993 Pensacola-Bellview

1994 Pensacola-Bellview

1995 Northeast Pensacola

1996 Bartow

1997 Myrtle Grove

1998 Pensacola-Bellview American

1999 Myrtle Grove

2000 Oak Griner

2001 Bartow

2002 Bartow

2003 Bartow

2004 Marianna

2005 Spring Hill National

2006 Bartow

2007 Bartow

2008 West Seminole

2009 Sebring

2010 Bushnell

2011 West Seminole

2012 Sebring

2013 Spring Hill American

-23-

Previous Hernando County AAA Minors State Results (2000-12)

- Compiled by TONY CASTRO

YR TEAM W L .PCT HEAD COACH

2002 ^ Spring Hill American 4 2 .667 Bobby Pasarela

2003 ^ Spring Hill American 4 2 .667 Ed Bunnell

2004 Spring Hill American 3 2 .600 Mike Sollazzo

2004 Spring Hill National 2 2 .500 Robert Miller

2004 Brooksville American 2 2 .500 Gerald Johnson

2005 $$ Spring Hill National 7 1 .875 David Smith

2006 ^ Spring Hill American 5 3 .625 Jim Keith

2007 Spring Hill American 1 2 .333 Vito Tambasco Sr.

2008 Spring Hill American 3 2 .600 Al Sorrentino

2009 Brooksville 3 2 .600 Bruce Price

2011 Spring Hill American 2 2 .500 Joe Abbadessa

2012 Spring Hill American 3 2 .600 Joe Abbadessa

2013 $$ Spring Hill American 6 0 1.000 Erik Andress

TOTALS (13) 45 24 .652 -12-

^ Denotes state runner-up

$$ Denotes state champion

2013 Spring Hill American AAA Minors (ages 9-10) All-Stars

NO. PLAYER POSITION(S)

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

Previous Hernando County Dixie Baseball State Champions (2000-12)

- Compiled by TONY CASTRO

YR TEAM W L .PCT COACH

2000 Brooksville Majors (ages 17-19) n/a Tim Sims

2005 Brooksville Pre-Majors (ages 15-16) 4 1 .800 Tim Sims

2005 Spring Hill National AAA Minors (10-U) 7 1 .875 David Smith

2008 Spring Hill Senior Boys (age 14) 5 1 .833 Mike Sollazzo

2008 Spring Hill American AAA Majors (11-12) 6 1 .857 Shawn Laferty

2010 Spring Hill National AAA Majors (11-12) 6 0 1.000 Al Sorrentino

2010 Spring Hill Pre-Majors (ages 15-16) 4 1 .800 Frank Vitale

2011 Spring Hill National AAA Majors (11-12) 7 0 1.000 Shawn Laferty

2011 Spring Hill Junior Boys (age 13) 5 0 1.000 Jeff Hamilton

2013 ## Spring Hill 15-Under 3 1 .750 Anthony DiSciascio

2013 Spring Hill American AAA Minors (10-U) 6 0 1.000 Erik Andress

TOTALS (11)

## Denotes co-state champions with Winter Haven

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