BUSHNELL – Defending district and state champion Spring Hill American was defused Friday night at Bushnell’s Kenny Dixon Sports Complex by South Lake National, 14-6.
Had Spring Hill American (4-1) won, the West Hernando County crew would have concluded a five-game sweep of the Dixie Baseball AAA Minors (ages 9-10) All-Stars District 6 Tournament.
Instead, both teams agreed to attempt to conclude the week-long, double-elimination event with a winner-take-all final Saturday afternoon at Bushnell.
Holding a precarious 2-1 lead through three frames, skipper Patrick Falcone’s SL National nine paraded 16 batters to plate in the fourth frame scoring a tournament-high 11 runs on nine hits off right-handers Jacob Kelly (2-1) and Sammy Sanchez.
Interestingly on Wednesday evening, SH American handed the Lake County squad (5-1) its lone setback via the mercy rule across four innings, 20-0.
SL National, which was no-hit by Kelly and Aiden Leskauskas, bounced back with a game-high 11 hits.
This time, Nate Williams, Logan Peterson and Grayson Bishop set the tone for South Lake with two hits apiece.
The left-handed hitting Williams, who finished 2-for-3, clubbed a solo homer over the 185-foot center-field fence in the first inning and followed by cracking a two-run single in the fourth.
Williams, however, took a backseat to Peterson for player of the game honors. Peterson countered by blasting a pair of homers.
Peterson, who also finished 2-for-3 and scored three runs, dipped down to smash a two-run homer in the fourth, and followed with a solo bomb again over the left-field fence in the sixth.
Tyler Azcano, who finished 1-for-3, chipped in a two-run double in the fourth inning.
Erik Andress’ SH American’s club, which stranded a game-high eight runners, countered with nine hits off three South Lake hurlers.
Kelly paced the defending champs with a game-high three singles in three at-bats. Leskauskas finished 2-for-4 while Quintin Hotop finished 1-for-2 highlighted by a two-run double in the bottom of the fifth.
Right-hander Jacob Collier, who worked the first two innings for SL National, climbed to 3-0.
In relief, Peterson pitched the third and fourth frames before Dawson Clark hurled the final two innings.
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Recapping the week, Coach Andress’ crew opened the 11-team event June 14 behind a 9-8 nod over Brooksville.
Brooksville led off the game with three runs in the top of the first before SH American responded with six runs in the bottom of the inning.
In the uprising, Owen Andress launched a two-run double while Sanchez, Izzy LaRoche and Talon Bergantino each drove in a run.
The West Hernando County squad padded the lead to 8-3 in the third as Andress doubled home another run while Sanchez chipped in an RBI single.
After Brooksville scored once in the top of fourth, Kelly’s RBI single in the bottom of the frame upped the margin to 9-4.Brooksville close the gap tallying four runs in the fifth.
For the victors, Owen Andress, Sanchez and Bergantino each finished with two safeties.
Bergantino, worked the first 3 1/3 innings, earning the mound win. He yielded four runs on four hits and five walks against three strikeouts.
Leskauskas hurled the final 2 2/3 innings to earn the save. Leskauskas survived four runs on three hits. He did not walk a batter and fanned a pair.
In Game 2 on June 16 against Spring Hill National, SH American outhit its brethren, 13-2, en route to an 11-1 triumph.
Jaxon Newhall, Owen Andress and Bergantino each collected two hits. Bergantino and Andress combined to score five runs while Newhall drove in two runs.
National couldn’t overcome American’s two second-inning runs. Gavin McMurdo drove in a run with an RBI single while Hotop scored on a wild pitch.
On the hill, Kelly claimed his initial victory toiling three innings of one-hit ball. He walked one and fanned six.
Sanchez followed yielding one run on one hit with one walk against four strikeouts over the next three innings.
After a bye, SH American returned to field on June 18 to pummel SL National. In all, SH American outhit the Lake County squad, 10-0.
Kelly and Bergantino led the defending champs with three hits apiece. Kelly, who scored two runs, enjoyed RBI singles in the first and second innings before smacking a three-run double highlighting an eight-run fourth inning.
Bergantino scored thrice and knocked in two runs while Leskauskas finished 2-for-4 with four runs scored.
Riley Cullum finished 2-for-3 with three runs scored and three RBI while Hotop coaxed a pair of bases-loaded free passes to drive in two runs.
On the mound, Kelly (2-0) labored the first three innings permitting one walk against four strikeouts. Leskauskas hurled a scoreless fourth to close the books.
In Game 4, SH American rode Bergantino’s complete-game three-hitter over Wesley Chapel National, 4-1.
Bergantino (2-0) surrendered three walks, but fanned eight across six innings. He helped his own cause finishing 2-for-3 and scored twice.
Owen Andress also finished 2-for-3, scored once and tripled. Newhall’s RBI single in the second gave SH American an early 1-0 lead.
Sanchez, who finished 2-for-3, launched a two-run homer over the left-field fence in the fourth to up the ante to 3-0.
Sanchez added an RBI single in the top of the sixth to build a 4-0 cushion.
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SH National completed play at 3-2 to place third overall.
“I really thought we were kicking it into gear,” explained SH National skipper Chris Carlson. “Everything was against us in Game 1; to come back and win was something.
“Then we made too many errors against Spring Hill American,” he added. “That’s the only game I didn’t like. Other than that it seemed like in every other game someone stepped up.”
In summing up his team’s performance, “I don’t think anyone expected us to finish this well,” noted Coach Carlson. “We came in here with a little swagger. We never gave up, even in the last game against South Lake (National), except against Spring Hill American. That’s the only game our guys didn’t pick each other up.”
SH National opened the tourney on the wrong foot trailing in the pouring rain to San Antonio after half an inning, 5-0.
Despite slushing through mud, SH National mustered one run in the third and five in the bottom of the sixth to avoid an upset, winning 6-5.
Layne Mathis and Christian Cooper led the victors with two hits apiece. Dylan Day and Cooper each responded with two RBI.
Justin Leyden’s clutch two-out RBI single in the sixth served as the tiebreaker.
After SH National utilized Jaren Crawford, Leyden and Gavin Meese in the rocky first inning, Day earned the mound win hurling the final five shutout frames.
Despite surrendering one hit, one walk and hitting a batter, Day fanned five.
In Game 2, the loss to SH American, only Ethan Higgins and Kannin Fleming managed a hit.
Cooper (0-1), who worked the first two innings, left trailing 2-0 after yielding four hits and four walks against one punch out.
In Game 3, again SH National trailed South Lake American early, 4-0 after 1½ innings, before rallying for an 8-5 victory.
SH National, which outhit South Lake, 7-1, was paced by Day’s 2-for-2 efforts, featuring two doubles and a run batted in. Meese added a double while Joey Carlson drove in a pair with a triple.
Cooper worked the first two frames and left trailing 4-2 allowing four walks against two strikeouts. Meese relieved Cooper and hurled three innings permitting one run on three walks against four strikeouts.
Day claimed the save hurling the last inning, surviving one hit and two free passes against three strikeouts.
Trailing 1-0 after half an inning to Bushnell in Game 4, SH National bounced back with eight unanswered runs to win going away, 9-2.
Day (2-0) hurled a complete-game five-hitter surrendering two runs and one walk against a tournament-high eight strikeouts.
Day helped himself with a first-inning two-run homer over the center-field fence. While Fleming and Cooper each plated two runs, Meese finished 2-for-3 behind a pair of RBI singles.
Tied at 5-all through four innings Thursday evening against SL National, SH National pitchers permitted nine unanswered runs to lose, 14-8.
South Lake National eliminated SH National thanks to a 10-8 edge in hits.
Crawford and Cooper each went 3-for-3 for Coach Carlson’s crew. Crawford scored once and drove in a game-high four runs while Cooper’s efforts were spotlighted by a two-run homer in the second inning.
Leyden, who scored twice, finished 2-for-3.
On the rubber, Crawford earned a no-decision working the first three innings. He yielded five runs on three hits and four walks against three strikeouts.
Meese (1-1) and Leyden permitted a combined nine runs on seven hits, plus a walk with no strikeouts.
South Lake National 14, Spring Hill American 6
123 4 5 6 R H E
BUS 101 (11) 0 1 – 14 11 3
SHA 100 4 0 1 – 6 9 1
SLN – Collier, Peterson (3), Clark (5) and Peterson.
SHA – Kelly, Sanchez (4) and Andress.
W – Collier (3-0). L – Kelly (2-1).
2B – Azcano (SLN), Hotop (SHA).
HR – Peterson (2), Williams (SLN).
Records – South Lake National (5-1), Spring Hill American (4-1).
Dixie Baseball AAA Minors (ages 9-10) All-Stars District Tourney Recap
at Bushnell’s Kenny Dixon Sports Complex
Wesley Chapel Navy – bye
Spring Hill American 9, Brooksville 8 (5.5 Innings)
Spring Hill National 6, San Antonio 5
South Lake National 13, Oak Grinner 0
Bushnell 8, Wesley Chapel 4
Wildwood 10, South Lake American 0
South Lake American – bye
Spring Hill American 11, Spring Hill National 1
South Lake National 15, Bushnell 4 (8)
Wesley Chapel Navy 12, Wildwood 1
Brooksville 15, San Antonio 5
Wesley Chapel Blue 20, Oak Griner 5
Spring Hill American – bye
South Lake National 8, Wesley Chapel Navy 5
Wesley Chapel Blue 3, Brooksville 1
Spring Hill National 8, South Lake American 5
Bushnell 13, Wildwood 7
Spring Hill American 20, South Lake National 0 (4)
Wesley Chapel Navy 7, Wesley Chapel Blue 2
Spring Hill National 9, Bushnell 2
South Lake National 14, Spring Hill National 8
Spring Hill American 4, Wesley Chapel Navy 1
South Lake National 14, Spring Hill American 6
South Lake National vs. Spring Hill American