Saturday, Dec 20, 2014

Spring Hill American earns state berth

Hernando Today correspondent


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A year ago, a Spring Hill all-star team captured the District 6 AA Rookies (ages 7-8) Tourney title in East Pasco County downing a Wesley Chapel club for the second time, 9-5.

A year later at the same venue - Wesley Chapel District Park - the tables were reversed.

On Sunday, the stout travel ball team from East Pasco, Wesley Chapel Royal, completed a perfect 5-0 tourney run, with a dominating 14-0 nod over Spring Hill American for the District 6 title.

Both Wesley Chapel Royal (5-0) and Spring Hill American (4-2) will advance to the June 29 AA Rookies State Tournament at Wildwood.

Wesley Chapel Royal survived one scare. In its second-round tilt against SH American, the West Hernando County crew led through five innings, 6-1. Wesley Chapel, however, bounced back for five runs in the sixth to tie matters at 6-all.

Spring Hill had the potential winning run thrown out in a bang-bang play at third base in the bottom of the sixth to send the game into extra innings.

WC Royal wasted little time sending 14 batters to the plate to plate eight runs to win 14-6 in seven innings.

Besides that game, WC Royal posted shutouts over Wesley Chapel Red (15-0), Bushnell (10-0), SH National (14-0) and in Sunday's final over SH American (14-0).

In all, WC Royal outscored the opposition by 61 runs, 67-6.

SH American skipper Kip Fleming told his troops that there was no shame associated in finishing second to WC Royal.

"That's a good team. We had them on the ropes once," described Fleming, whose team outscored the opposition 71-40. "That's a travel ball team that's played 40-80 games together. We practiced for 1 1/2 weeks before we got here - that's not bad.

"And we lost Brenden (Jones) to a broken arm before we got here. I thought Nick (Franklin) did a great job of filling in, in such a tough spot," added Coach Fleming.

The eight-day long tourney was hampered by 2 days of rainouts. SH American opened on the right foot courtesy of a 22-9 nod over SH National.

American led 22-2 before National tallied seven runs in the fifth.

Jaxen Gates departed after a 12-2 cushion following the second frame. He issued one walk against four strikeouts to earn the mound win.

At the plate, Gates helped himself to a 3-for-4 effort featuring a double, triple and three runs scored.

Caden Bergantino went 3-for-3 featuring a double and two walks and scored a game-high four runs. Sam Sanchez also went 3-for-3 featuring a RBI double and was hit by a pitch.

In the near upset of WC Royal, Gates departed the mound with a 4-1 lead through four innings. He was stellar allowing one run and two walks while notching six strikeouts.

According to Coach Fleming the game's outcome hinged on a bang-bang play at third involving Brian "Rabbit" Seaman.

"Rabbit was at second and on a grounder he took off for third," recalled Coach Fleming. "I got screened out. But our fans and coaches said Rabbit was safe at third. (The umpire) called him out. Had he reached, you never know if there's a passed ball or wild pitch with two outs and we win the game.

"It just seemed like the team was shocked with the call," added Coach Fleming. "Then they (WC Royal) score eight runs in the seventh and it's over."

Offensively, Izabell "Izzy" LaRoche paced SH American with a 2-for-2 effort featuring two singles, plus a walk and two runs scored. Bergantino went 1-for-1 and walked twice, plating three runs.

SH American eliminated Ridge Manor in mercy-rule shortened tilt in three innings, 22-3.

The American nine ended any suspense by plating 13 first-inning runs.

LaRoche went 3-for-3 with two triples and two runs scored. Gates went 3-for-3 with a double and two runs scored. Seaman also went 3-for-3 and scored thrice. James Hurd finished 3-for-3 featuring a triple and scored twice.

SH American claimed its third win with an impressive five-inning shutout over Wesley Chapel Navy, 10-0.

LaRoche earned her second mound win working the first three innings. She permitted two hits and six walks against three strikeouts.

Dylan Day went 2-for-3 with three stolen bases and scoring a run. Bergantino and Kannin Fleming each went 1-for-1 and walked a combined four times, scoring three runs.

Coach Fleming's crew notched its fourth tourney win by ousting Bushnell in six innings on Sunday, 11-2.

Gates went the first three frames and departed ahead, 8-0. Gates permitted two hits and one walk against four strikeouts.

Bergantino continued to sparkle going 3-for-3 behind three singles and three runs scored.

Day went 2-for-2 with two doubles, plus a walk and scored three runs.

Gates chipped in a 2-for-3 performance with a double, three runs scored and three stolen bases.

WC Royal closed the door on the tourney scoring seven runs in the first and third innings to oust SH American in 3 innings. Kannin Fleming and Franklin had Spring Hill's only hits.

SH National finished tied for third with Bushnell at 3-2.

"Sure, we would have loved to have won this or placed runner-up, but I'm very happy with how we finished," explained SH National skipper John McMurdo. "The boys did as good as they could. Our guys got down once early in the first game against Spring Hill American. After that we gave them a little pep talk and the kids responded well.

"Should a team drop out at states, we could be in the mix to play. I'd love another chance with these guys."

In the lopsided opening-game loss to SH American, T.J. Johnson and Gavin McMurdo paced the National nine with two hits apiece.

Johnson added a walk and one run scored while McMurdo chipped in a triple and scored two runs.

SH National bounced back in the loser's bracket by piecing together three straight wins.

In its second game, National trailed WC Red once, 1-0, before scoring 10 unanswered runs to never look back, 19-4.

Thompson worked the first three frames to earn the mound victory. He permitted one run on two hits and one walk against four strikeouts.

Ty Palmgren paced the National nine with a sterling 4-for-4 effort with three doubles, three RBI and two runs scored.

In Round 3, SH National broke open a tight two-run game by exploding for 17 runs in the third inning to dispose of WC Blue, 21-4 (three innings).

Thompson earned his second straight win working all three innings. He allowed four runs on five hits and four walks. He finished with four punch-outs.

Johnson paced the winner's attack going 3-for-3, including a double.

The National nine extended its win skein to three in a row by staving off Brooksville, 7-5.

For the third straight game, Thompson earned the mound win hurling three innings. He permitted two hits, one run, and one walk against one strikeout.

Palma and Gavin McMurdo notched the team's only two hits versus WC Royal.

District 6 AA Rookies (ages 7-8) Tourney Recap

at Wesley Chapel District Park


Brooksville - bye.

Wesley Chapel Royal 15, Wesley Chapel Red 0

Spring Hill American 22, Spring Hill National 9 (4 Innings)

South Lake 22, Wesley Chapel Blue 15

Bushnell 20, San Antonio 0

Wesley Chapel Navy 28, Ridge Manor 3


Ridge Manor - bye.

Brooksville 6, Wesley Chapel Navy 4

Spring Hill National 19, Wesley Chapel Red 4 (5)

Wesley Chapel Blue 10, San Antonio 9

Wesley Chapel Royal 14, Spring Hill American 6 (7)

Bushnell 12, South Lake 2


Wesley Chapel Royal - bye.

Spring Hill American 22, Ridge Manor 1 (3)

Wesley Chapel Navy 10, South Lake 9


Rained out


Rained out


Spring Hill National 21, Wesley Chapel Blue 4 (3)

Bushnell 13, Brooksville 2


Spring Hill National 7, Brooksville 5

Spring Hill American 10, Wesley Chapel Navy 0 (5)

Wesley Chapel Royal 10, Bushnell 0


Spring Hill American 11, Bushnell 2 (6)

Wesley Chapel Royal 14, Spring Hill National 0


Wesley Chapel Royal 14, Spring Hill American 0 (4)

2013 District 6 AA Rookies (ages 7-8) Tourney Standings at Wesley Chapel's District Park


1. Wesley Chapel Royal* 5 0 1.000 67 06

2. Spring Hill American* 4 2 .667 71 40

3. Spring Hill National 3 2 .600 56 36

3. Bushnell 3 2 .600 56 16

5 Wesley Chapel Navy 2 2 .500 51 20

6. Wesley Chapel Blue 1 2 .333 29 52

6. South Lake 1 2 .333 25 46

6. Brooksville 1 2 .333 13 24

9. San Antonio 0 2 .000 09 30

9. Wesley Chapel Red 0 2 .000 04 34

9. Ridge Manor 0 2 .000 04 50

TOTALS 20 20 .500

* Denotes qualified for June 29 AA Rookies State Tournament at Wildwood.

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