Eleven days earlier in Spring Hill, an incorrect coin flip gave a Polk County 15-Under all-star team a share of a state crown never earned between the lines.
Late Thursday evening in Brooksville, picking a slip of paper out of a hat with an "X" marked on it was at the epicenter of another critical decision.
The draw for a bye was necessitated when three AAA Minors (ages 9-10) All-Stars teams in the week-long District 6 Tournament at Ernie Wever Youth Park were tied with identical 4-1 won-lost records.
By Dixie Baseball rules, Wesley Chapel American, Spring Hill American and Bushnell drew for the coveted bye on Friday.
SH American, which had been scuttled by red-hot Bushnell on Thursday, 10-1, drew the fortuitous bye.
In Friday's early elimination game, Bushnell's Zander Eastburn cracked a homer as the Sumter County crew rolled up its fifth straight tourney win via the mercy rule after 3½ innings, 11-1.
An hour later, Bushnell attempted a tourney repeat.
Spring Hill right-hander Ryan Ebberup, however, had other plans.
Ebberup stymied Sumter County's momentum - Bushnell arrived averaging almost 12 runs a game since its opening-game 2-0 shutout at the hands of Wesley Chapel National - behind a tantalizing assortment of off-speed pitches.
All-told across four innings, Ebberup restricted the defending champs to a bouncing single up the middle by Angel Gracia and nothing else in a dazzling 12-2 mercy-rule shortened affair in 3½ innings.
It didn't matter that Ebberup issued four free passes, unleashed two wild pitches and permitted two runs (one earned). He more than made up for it keeping the Bushnell bats swinging and mostly missing behind a game-high nine strikeouts.
Head coach Erik Andress' crew claimed Hernando County's 40th District 6 crown since 2001 and the seventh for SH American in the AAA Minors division behind eight hits and a game-high 12 free passes off a trio of Bushnell hurlers.
Still, both runner-up Bushnell (5-2) and district champ SH American (5-1) will advance to the July 13 AAA Minors State Championship in Freeport.
Bushnell's veteran skipper Cinto Arredondo made no excuses afterward.
"We weren't throwing strikes," pointed out Coach Arredondo, whose staff allowed 23-of-34 SH American batters to reach base. "Once we got behind tonight, it was over."
On finishing as runners-up, "I'm OK finishing second; we're still going to states," he said. "We were in a tough spot. I didn't have my son ready to pitch tonight. He wasn't available.
"Overall, we did a great job coming back after dropping that first game," he added. "We hit the ball until this last game. Our biggest positive? When we hit, we win. We didn't hit tonight."
From the home dugout, the first-year mentor Andress sprinkled praise among all his players, beginning with Ebberup.
"This was the second time this week Ryan has pitched a gem," said Coach Andress. "He had a 1-hitter earlier against Spring Hill National."
On drawing the bye, "Looking back, that was huge," declared Coach Andress. "Yesterday, they (Bushnell) beat us up. They really hit the ball.
"Tonight we were fresh. We all knew what we had to do. When we broke the pregame huddle, the guys were fired up and into it."
On what pleased Coach Andress the most, "It's a family we've created here," he beamed. "The team has bonded. These guys battle for each other - that's what wins games."
Spring Hill, which stranded 10 runners on base including seven left in scoring position, set the game's tone early.
Ebberup retired the menacing Bushnell lineup in order in the first frame behind two punch-outs.
The hosts quickly tallied two runs on two hits and three walks off Bushnell starting pitcher Trevor Moffitt.
Zeth Rodriguez opened the game on a free pass before Ebberup reached on an infield bunt single across a wet infield. Friday's first game was delayed 33 minutes by showers and lightning in the area.
A fielder's choice and another walk to Yoskar Lopez loaded the sacks. A Moffitt wild pitch permitted Rodriguez to scamper home.
Talon Bergantino, who cracked a game-high two hits, reached on a RBI single plating Chase Davis, 2-0.
Moffitt barely escaped the first behind back-to-back strikeouts to leave the sacks jammed.
Gracia led off the second frame with Bushnell's lone hit. Grady Carson reached on a free pass. With two outs, Ebberup unleashed a pair of wild pitches. The second one permitted Carson to score easily from third, 2-1.
With the bases loaded, Ebberup wiggled out of the tight spot by fanning Zuhn Mang.
In the bottom of the second, SH American tacked on three runs on three hits to chase Moffitt.
Quintop Hotop opened the frame by legging out an infield hit. Jaren Crawford sacrificed him to second before Tyler Jamieson walked.
With two outs, Rodriguez walked to load the bases. Ebberup walked to force home Hotop.
Davis and Lopez followed with RBI singles plating Jamieson and Rodriguez respectively, 5-1.
Here, Coach Arredondo opted for Eastburn to face Bergantino. Eastburn struck out Bergantino to leave the sacks loaded.
Moffitt (0-1), who faced 16 batters, was charged with five runs (all earned) on five hits and six walks and three strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings.
With two outs in the Bushnell third, Tyler Parish coaxed a free pass on five pitches.
Eastburn and Royce Arredondo reached on back-to-back miscues by the SH American first sacker to plate Parish, 5-2.
The inning ended on a sour note for Bushnell. On a routine throwback to the pitcher, Eastburn bolted for third. As Ebberup caught catcher Lopez's throw, he spun around and threw a perfect peg to third base to cut down Eastburn.
Eastburn walked four of the first five batters he faced in the bottom of the third. A successful double steal compounded by a throwing error permitted Riley Cullum and Niko Simon to score, 7-2.
Ebberup retired Bushnell 1-2-3 in the fourth behind three strikeouts.
SH American opened the five-run fourth with the fifth free pass off Eastburn by Lopez.
Bergantino followed with a double to left-center off Bushnell's third pitcher, Cameron Chace.
Cullum grounded to shortstop Royce Arredondo, whose throw to the plate skipped past the catcher Carson allowing Lopez and Bergantino to score, 9-2.
Collin Nelson beat out an infield single down the third base line plating Cullum.
Simon reached on an infield single and Rodriguez reached for the fourth time on a fielder's choice.
With two outs, Ebberup walked to reload the sacks. Davis followed with a sharp grounder to third base that skipped past the catcher Carson for another two-base error, allowing Nelson and Rodriguez to close the books.
On how big the win was, "It was really big," suggested the 10-year-old Rodriguez, who plated a game-high three runs. "We smoked them after what happened yesterday. I thought Ryan pitched excellent."
"I hit much better today than yesterday," detailed the 10-year-old Bergantino. "Yesterday, I didn't get a hit.
"I thought Ryan really pitched great," added Bergantino. "Winning districts is awesome."
"I felt fine," described the 10-year-old Ebberup on his mound outing. "I thought our defense really played well. They (Bushnell) didn't have their best pitcher (Royce Arredondo) for today, oh well. We won, but we can still play better."
In recapping the tourney, Spring Hill American opened District 6 play with an impressive 10-0 shutout of Oak Griner.
Offensively, Rodriguez and Davis each finished 2-for-3. Rodriguez plated two runs and knocked in one run while Davis scored a game-high three runs.
Ebberup finished 1-for-3 highlighted by an inside-the-park, two-run homer in the third inning.
In Game 2, Jaren Crawford laid down a perfect bunt single to ignite a nine-run third inning en route to a come-from-behind 16-3 win in five innings over Wildwood.
Lopez led the SH American hit parade going 3-for-3 with a triple and two singles. He drove in three runs and scored twice.
Not to be outdone, Davis went 2-for-3 with a double, a game-high four RBI and three runs scored.
Rodriguez chipped in a fine 2-for-4 effort with a double, two runs knocked in and two runs scored.
Ebberup was the headliner in an outstanding 4-0 shutout over Spring Hill National. Ebberup twirled a complete-game 1-hitter allowing one walk against a tournament-high 13 punch-outs.
Bergantino and Lopez each led the winners with 2-for-3 efforts at the plate. Bergantino drove in two runs. Lopez added one RBI and scored a run.
SH American extended its tourney win skein to four in a row by whacking Wesley Chapel National in five innings, 15-3.
Ebberup paced the winners with a fine 3-for-3 effort highlighted by a double, three RBI and two runs scored.
Rodriguez finished 2-for-4 with a triple and three RBI, plus three runs scored. Davis went 2-for-4 with two triples, one RBI and two runs scored.
Lopez added a 2-for-3 effort with two runs knocked in. Cullum finished 1-for-2 and two runs scored.
In Thursday's loss to Bushnell, Royce Arredondo was phenomenal surrendering only four hits across six innings of work. All-told, Arredondo allowed two walks against a game-high 13 strikeouts.
Only Rodriguez and Davis solved Arredondo with each going 2-for-3. Davis had the team's only RBI in the first inning.
Spring Hill American 12, Bushnell 2 (3½ Innings)
123 4 R H E
BUS 011 0 - 2 1 3
SHA 232 5 - 12 8 2
BUS - Moffitt, Eastburn (2), Chace (4) and Carson.
SHA - Ebberup and Lopez.
W - Ebberup (2-0). L - Moffitt (0-1).
2B - Bergantino (SHA).
Records - Bushnell (5-2), Spring Hill American (5-1).
District 6 AAA Minors (ages 9-10) Tourney Recap
at Brooksville's Ernie Weaver Youth Park
Wildwood - bye
Wesley Chapel National 2, Bushnell 0
Wesley Chapel American 16, Ridge Manor 1 (5 Innings)
Brooksville 10, South Lake 0 (5)
Spring Hill National 11, San Antonio 0 (5)
Spring Hill American 10, Oak Griner 0 (5)
Oak Griner - bye
Spring Hill American 16, Wildwood 3 (4)
Bushnell 20, Ridge Manor 0 (3)
San Antonio 10, South Lake 5
Wesley Chapel National 15, Wesley Chapel American 5 (4)
Spring Hill National 12, Brooksville 8
Wesley Chapel National - bye
Wesley Chapel American 19, Oak Griner 4 (3)
Brooksville 15, Wildwood 3 (4)
Bushnell 6, San Antonio 3
Spring Hill American 4, Spring Hill National 0
Bushnell 11, Spring Hill National 1 (5)
Wesley Chapel American 11, Brooksville 10
Spring Hill American 15, Wesley Chapel National 3 (5)
Wesley Chapel American 7, Wesley Chapel National 6
Bushnell 10, Spring Hill American 1
Spring Hill American - bye
Bushnell 11, Wesley Chapel American 1 (3½)
Spring Hill American 12, Bushnell 2 (3½)
2013 Final District 6 AAA Minors (ages 9-10) Standings at Brooksville's Ernie Wever Youth Park
PL TEAM W L .PCT RS RA
1. Spring Hill American 5 1 .833 58 18
2. Bushnell 5 2 .714 60 20
3. Wesley Chapel American 4 2 .667 59 47
4. Wesley Chapel National 2 2 .500 26 27
5. Brooksville 2 2 .500 43 26
5. Spring Hill National 2 2 .500 24 23
7. San Antonio 1 2 .333 13 22
8. South Lake 0 2 .000 05 20
8. Oak Griner 0 2 .000 04 29
8. Wildwood 0 2 .000 06 31
8. Ridge Manor 0 2 .000 01 36
TOTALS 21 21 .500
2013 Spring Hill American AAA Minors (ages 10-Under) 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
By the Numbers: Spring Hill American AAA Minors District 6 Results (2001-13)
- Compiled by TONY CASTRO
YR W L .PCT HEAD COACH
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
2013$ 5 1 .833 Erik Andress
TOTALS 55 16 .775 -12-
$ Denotes District 6 Champion