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Spring Hill yearns to return as World Series champs


Published:   |   Updated: August 2, 2013 at 09:27 PM

The Boys of Summer, aka Spring Hill's AAA Minors (10-Under) All-Stars, continue their exceptional run Saturday.

The defending Dixie Baseball District 6 and state champions from West Hernando County (11-1 overall) enter the 16th annual AAA Minors World Series in Laurel, Miss.

Saturday's expected opening round features 12 teams across a six-day, double elimination format including: Spring Hill, Fla.; Georgia; Texas; Rustburg, Va.; Corinth, Miss.; Hartsville Northern, SC; Texarkana, Ark.; Piedmont, Ala.; Lexington, Tenn.; Benton, La.; Stanley, NC; and host Laurel, Miss.

The defending tourney champs hail from Midland, SC.

Only one Sunshine State team has ever captured this World Series age group - the 2011 West Seminole team.

None of the previous seven Spring Hill-based teams to ever reach a Dixie World Series has returned home with the tallest trophy.

The closest to winning it all was Mike Sollazzo's Senior Boys (age 14) All-Stars in 2008, which dropped the World Series title game.

This year's SH American AAA Minors All-Stars squad 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 has guided the SH American crew to seven straight wins - including the program's perfect 6-0 run at states. Andress, a first-year coach, is assisted by Mike Bergantino and Mike Cullum.

Andress' team strength is underlined by seven returning all-stars from 2012 including Bergantino, Crawford, Cullum and Hotop (Rookies); and Davis, Lopez and Rodriguez (Minors).

During districts in Brooksville, Spring Hill utilized the entire park, spraying 60 hits for a collective .411 batting average. In the process, SH American outscored its opponents by an average score of 10-3.

At states in Freeport, Spring Hill elevated its game, batting a collective .433 with 65 runs scored.

Going yard is not this team's modus operandi. Through 296 at-bats, the Hernando County club has managed two homers. The key is 10 of its 12 rostered players enter the World Series hitting .300 or better.

Ebberup, who hit safely in 13 of 18 trips (.722 average) at Freeport, leads the team in total hits (21), doubles (5), homers (1), extra-base hits (8), runs batted in (13) and batting average (.600).

Not that he's alone.

Bergantino and Crawford both enter the World Series hitting .500.

Davis (.459) leads the team in at-bats (37), triples (3) and has cracked seven extra-base hits.

Rodriguez (.438) leads the state champs in runs scored (19) and homers (1) and stands second in RBI (12).

Lopez, a defensive whiz behind the dish, hit a team-best .571 in districts, but cooled off to a team-low .167 average at states.

On the hill, Ebberup arrives 4-0 with 43 strikeouts against 10 walks in 22 innings pitched.

Rodriguez is right behind at 3-1 with 19 Ks in 14.2 innings pitched, while Lopez and Bergantino are a combined 4-0 with 16 strikeouts across 18 innings.

The team also has several unsung heroes. "Guys like Jaren (Crawford) picked up key runs batted in for us and Niko (Simon) officially batted only eight times, but was on base literally the entire tournament," explained Andress. "It's not just the 'Big Four.'"

"Our top four guys are the foundation of this team," Andress added. "We go as they go, but right now the beauty is we have 12 guys all meshing together. .Bergantino has been as steady as anyone we've got out there. .Davis absolutely can't hit the ball any harder than he is right now. He's one of the best athletes I've seen for his age. . And Ryan (Ebberup), what more can I say? The kid could play baseball for 24 hours nonstop."

Andress evaluated states, where Spring Hill out-scored its opponents, 63-17.

"In districts, we had four guys really shine (Rodriguez, Lopez, Bergantino and Ebberup)," Andress said. "At states, the difference was the bottom of the lineup came through game after game - that's why we dominated."

Analyzing an offense that arrives at the World Series averaging over 10 hits and 10 runs per game, Andress said there is still room for improvement.

"We scored a bunch of runs in states on the other team's errors," he said. "So far, we've been OK with our bunt game, but we've got to be more aggressive."

Andress believes that the team has it in them to raise their game.

"I still think there's gas in the tank," Andress said. "It's whether or not there are any more gas stations out there. We're expecting the pitching at states to be stout."

The biggest compliment Andress heard about his deep mound staff was, "Coaches came up to me and couldn't figure out who are ace was."

Defensively, "We were stellar," noted Andress. "It's awesome to watch. We didn't drop any fly balls and we made all the routine plays. We're big believers in having a crisp pre-game infield."

Andress is aware of the intangibles involved with playing in a World Series, not the least of which is the sense of pressure.

"As coaches we don't put any undue pressure on these 10-year-olds," said Andress. "We do make sure our kids our representing us in a good light."

On reaching Laurel, "It's been a quite a ride so far," Andress said.

"I'm not used doing interviews with the press and doing all the fundraising we'd had to do. But it's been an unbelievable experience. The excitement is starting to boil over."

Spring Hill opens the event at 7:30 p.m. (CST) Saturday against Texas.

"I have no doubt Texas is as solid as we think they are," Andress said. "I'm sure we'll face their best."

The keys to success according to Andress lie with another good tournament start.

"If we can win the first two games and keep our pitching in shape, we've got a chance (at the World Series title)," dedeclared Andress.

"I will be disappointed if this team does not reach the final - we're capable of getting there."

AT A GLANCE

WHAT - 16th annual Dixie Baseball AAA Minors (ages 9-10) All-Stars World Series.

WHO - Twelve teams in a double-elimination format featuring: Spring Hill, Georgia, Texas, Rustburg (Va.), Corinth (Miss.), Hartsville Northern (S.C.), Texarkana (Ark.), Piedmont (Ala.), Lexington (Tenn.), Benton (La.), Stanley (N.C.) and host Laurel (Miss.).

WHERE - Laurel, Miss.

WHEN - Aug. 3-8 (weather permitting).

AT STAKE - World Series champion crowned.

By the numbers: Past AAA Minors All-Stars (ages 9-10) World Series Champions (1998-12)

- Compiled by TONY CASTRO

YEAR TEAM

1998 Newton County, Georgia

1999 North Gwinnett, Georgia

2000 Hattiesburg, Mississippi

2001 Hilton Head, South Carolina

2002 North Gwinnett, Georgia

2003 Montgomery, Alabama

2004 Montgomery, Alabama

2005 Troy, Alabama

2006 Taylorville, Alabama

2007 Dentsville, South Carolina

2008 McComb, Mississippi

2009 Troup County, Georgia

2010 Lexington, South Carolina

2011 West Seminole, Florida

2012 Midland, South Carolina

-15-

The Road to "The Show"

2013 District 6 AAA Minors (ages 9-10) Tourney Recap

at Brooksville's Ernie Wever Youth Park

06-15:

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)

06-17:

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

06-18:

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

06-19:

Bushnell 11, Spring Hill National 1 (5)

Wesley Chapel American 11, Brooksville 10

Spring Hill American 15, Wesley Chapel National 3 (5)

06-20:

Wesley Chapel American 7, Wesley Chapel National 6

Bushnell 10, Spring Hill American 1

06-21:

Spring Hill American - bye

Bushnell 11, Wesley Chapel American 1 (3)

(Championship)

Spring Hill American 12, Bushnell 2 (3)

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

at Brooksville's Ernie Wever Youth Park

- Compiled by TONY CASTRO

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

Final 23rd annual 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.

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

2013 Spring Hill American AAA Minors Statistics (thru 08-02)

- Compiled by TONY CASTRO

Hitting Stats (thru 08-02)

PLAYER GP AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI .AVG

Ebberup 12 35 17 21* 5* 2 1* 13* .600*

Bergantino 12 32 09 16 3 0 0 5 .500

Crawford 12 18 07 09 0 0 0 6 .500

Hotop 12 28 11 13 0 0 0 7 .464

Davis 12 37* 15 17 4 3* 0 9 .459

Rodriguez 12 32 19* 14 2 1 1* 12 .438

Lopez 12 32 09 11 0 1 0 7 .344

Simon 12 16 10 06 0 0 0 5 .313

Cullum 12 26 10 08 1 0 0 4 .308

Jamieson 12 10 05 03 0 0 0 5 .300

Nelson 12 18 05 05 0 0 0 4 .278

Andress 12 12 02 02 0 0 0 2 .167

TOTALS(12) 12 296 121 125 15 7 2 89 .422

* Denotes team leader

Pitching Stats

PLAYER AP IP R ER BB KO ERA W L

Ebberup 5* 22.0* 5 4 10 43* 1.09 4* 0

Rodriguez 5* 14.2 7 6 7 19 2.45 3 1

Lopez 5* 10.0 8 5 6 12 3.00 2 0

Bergantino 4 8.0 1 1 7 4 0.75 2 0

Hotop 3 3.0 5 5 5 4 10.0 0 0

Davis 2 1.1 0 0 2 1 0.00* 0 0

Crawford 1 1.0 3 3 4 1 27.0 0 0

TOTALS 25 60.0 35 24 41 84 2.40 11 1

* Denotes team leader

2013 Spring Hill American AAA Minors State Championship Tourney Statistics

Hitting Stats

PLAYER GP AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI .AVG

Ebberup 06 18 11* 13* 3* 2* 0 6 .722*

Bergantino 06 17 07 10 1 0 0 3 .588

Crawford 06 11 04 06 0 0 0 5 .545

Nelson 06 04 01 02 0 0 0 2 .500

Davis 06 19* 05 09 3* 1 0 5 .474

Hotop 06 15 06 07 0 0 0 3 .467

Simon 06 08 06 03 0 0 0 4 .375

Rodriguez 06 15 09 05 1 0 1 6 .333

Andress 06 06 01 02 0 0 0 1 .333

Cullum 06 15 05 04 1 0 0 2 .267

Jamieson 06 04 02 01 0 0 0 3 .250

Lopez 06 18 04 03 0 0 0 3 .167

TOTALS 06 150 63 65 9 3 1 43 .433

* Denotes team leader

Pitching Stats

PLAYER AP IP R ER BB KO ERA W L

Ebberup 3 12.0 3 3 5 19 1.50 2 0

Rodriguez 3 8.2 0 0 2 9 0.00 3 0

Lopez 3 6.0 3 3 3 9 3.00 1 0

Hotop 2 2.0 5 5 3 2 15.0 0 0

Bergantino 1 1.0 0 0 3 1 0.00 0 0

Davis 1 0.1 0 0 0 0 0.00 0 0

TOTALS 13 30.0 17 11 16 40 2.20 6 0

* Denotes team leader

2013 Spring Hill American AAA Minors District 6 Statistics

Hitting Stats (thru 07-12)

PLAYER GP AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI .AVG

Lopez 06 14 05 08 0 1 0 4 .571

Rodriguez 06 17 10* 09* 1 1 0 6 .529

Ebberup 06 17 06 08 2* 0 1* 7 .471

Hotop 06 13 05 06 0 0 0 4 .462

Davis 06 18* 10* 08 1 2* 0 4 .444

Crawford 06 07 03 03 0 0 0 1 .429

Bergantino 06 15 02 06 2* 0 0 2 .400

Simon 06 08 04 03 0 0 0 1 .375

Cullum 06 11 05 04 0 0 0 2 .363

Jamieson 06 06 03 02 0 0 0 2 .333

Nelson 06 14 04 03 0 0 0 2 .214

Andress 06 06 01 00 0 0 0 1 .000

TOTALS 06 146 58 60 6 4 1 46 .411

* Denotes team leader

Pitching Stats

PLAYER AP IP R ER BB KO ERA W L

Ebberup 2 10.0* 2 1 5 24* 0.90 2* 0

Bergantino 3* 7.0 1 1 4 3 1.29 2* 0

Rodriguez 2 6.0 7 6 5 10 9.00 0 1

Lopez 2 4.0 5 2 3 3 4.50 1 0

Hotop 1 1.0 0 0 2 2 0.00 0 0

Davis 1 1.0 0 0 2 1 0.00 0 0

Crawford 1 1.0 3 3 4 1 27.0 0 0

TOTALS 12 30.0 18 13 25 44 2.60 5 1

* Denotes team leader

Previous Spring Hill Dixie Baseball World Series Results (2005-12)

- Compiled by TONY CASTRO

YR TEAM W L .PCT COACH

2005 Spring Hill National AAA Minors (10-U) 2 2 .500 David Smith

2008 ^ Spring Hill Senior Boys (age 14) 4 2 .667 Mike Sollazzo

2008 Spring Hill American AAA Majors (11-12) 0 2 .000 Shawn Laferty

2010 Spring Hill National AAA Majors (11-12) 3 2 .600 Al Sorrentino

2010 Spring Hill Pre-Majors (ages 15-16) 0 2 .000 Frank Vitale

2011 Spring Hill National AAA Majors (11-12) 1 2 .333 Shawn Laferty

2011 Spring Hill Junior Boys (age 13) 2 2 .500 Jeff Hamilton

TOTALS (7) -6-

^ Denotes World Series runners-up

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