Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014
Sports

World Series dreams resonate in Highlands County


Published:

Three local Dixie Youth League Baseball All-Star squads - including two from Spring Hill, another from Brooksville - will trek approximately 130 miles for a pair of state tournaments at the City of Sebring's Max Long Baseball Complex.

The 39th annual Senior Boys (age 14) State Tournament begins today with 12 teams in an expected five-day (weather permitting), double-elimination format featuring: Avon Park, Bartow, Brooksville, Hardee County, Havana, Key West, Mulberry, Spring Hill, Sumter County, West Seminole, Wildwood and host Sebring.

The defending state champion is Winter Haven's Florida Baseball Academy.

This year's state champion will represent Florida in the 12-team, Aug. 3-7 World Series at Seneca, S.C.

Also on today, the 18th annual Junior Boys (age 13) State Championship begins with six teams in a double-elimination format featuring: East Lakeland, Key West, Okeechobee, Spring Hill, West Seminole and host Highlands County.

The defending state champion is Sebring.

Florida's Junior state champion will advance to the Aug. 3-7 World Series at South Commons in Columbus, Ga.

???Spring Hill (4-0) arrives in Highlands County as the defending District 6 champion.

Head coach Shawn Laferty's troops claimed their league's sixth straight district crown and eighth in 10 years by rallying past Wildwood on June 26 via the 10-run mercy run at Brooksville's Ernie Wever Youth Park, 23-13 (4 innings).

With the latest district title, Coach Laferty tied the record for most Hernando County District 6 titles since the millennium at four, shared by Brooksville's Gerald Johnson and Spring Hill's Jim Keith and Vito Tambasco Sr.

On Saturday, Laferty seeks his third state championship. He'll be assisted in the dugout by Dale Ashton and Tony Siem.

Spring Hill's Senior Boys All-Stars feature: 3B/SS/2B Morgan Ashton, SS/OF Stephen Bienstock, P/LF/3B Robert Bunyon, P/CF/3B Paul Coumoulos, SS/C/2B/P Luke Laferty, C/3B Zack Lawrence, CF/LF Brett Maharaj, 1B/P/3B Dominic Marrone, C/RF Nick Nguyen, CF/2B Logan Ross, RF/2B Bodhi Sbashnig, P/1B/RF Noah Siem and P/LF/3B Trevor Vendrone.

Bienstock, who missed the last three days of the district tournament, will be a welcome sight at shortstop.

At districts, Spring Hill dominated winning by an average score of 16-4. Contributions arrived up and down the lineup. Lawrence paced the club in hitting at .571.

Of the nine Spring Hill batters who hit .300 or better, Siem led the club in doubles (two) while hitting .545.

Marrone led the West Hernando County crew in hits (seven), doubles (two) and triples (one) while hitting .538.

For a Spring Hill squad that hit a collective .427, Nguyen (.500) clubbed three of his team's eight homers.

Though Coumoulos hit .230, he drove in a tournament-high 12 runs.

Ashton plated a team-high 13 runs and drove in nine behind an eye-popping .875 on base percentage.

On the mound, Spring Hill had some control issues. Despite totaling 24 strikeouts in 20 innings, Spring Hill finished the event with 12 walks and 15 runs allowed (all earned) for a 5.91 earned run average.

On the lessons learned from districts, "We had too many walks from our pitchers and we have to do a better job of pitching to contact," emphasized Coach Laferty, who holds the local Dixie Baseball record for most games coached (59), most career wins (44), most wins at states (18), and most state championships (two) - tied with Brooksville's Tim Sims.

Offensively, Laferty expects a much different scenario at states.

"Batting averages tend to even out; it's a game of failure," described Laferty. "Let's face it we faced weak pitching, that's why some of our numbers are elevated. Trust me, we're going be challenged at states with much tougher pitching."

Laferty pointed out even though one of his aces, Siem, struggled with seven walks in 3 1/3 innings, "He had a good tournament from the plate. Whatever happened on the mound he didn't allow it to affect him at the plate - that's a sign of a mature player.

"Ashton was on base nearly the entire tournament, and Dominic (Marrone) is a horse," added Laferty. "He pitched well and hit the ball. And Bunyon very quietly does his job day in and day out. When he goes out, there's no question he can go the distance for us."

With the return of Bienstock at shortstop, that allows Coach Laferty the luxury of some extra defensive moves including utilizing his son Luke primarily behind the plate.

Spring Hill, which finished 3-2 at states in 2012 under Gary Myers, opens at noon today against an unknown element - Key West.

"After looking at the brackets, the most important thing for our team is to get Game 1," noted Coach Laferty. "Then the next important game is Game 2. We can plan out the tournament the best we can, but baseball is baseball. Things don't always go the way you'd like."

On the keys to winning, "We have to save as much of our pitching as possible," identified Coach Laferty. "My greatest concern? It kind of bothers me that we weren't tested at districts. This group was tested in the 15-Under State Tournament more than at districts."

Spring Hill is attempting earn its second state title in this age group, the first since 2008 under Mike Sollazzo.

"Not making the tournament final would be disappointing with this group of kids," stressed Coach Laferty. "If we don't make it, I'm not jumping off the Skyway (Bridge). Our theme is 'Let's do something special together.' For the most part, the coaching part is over. Now, it's up to the boys to execute. I'm just there to try and lead them in the right direction."

Brooksville finished in third place during the District 6 Tournament behind a 1-2 run.

This summer's 11-member Brooksville Senior Boys All-Stars feature: P/3B Scotty Bierwiler, 2B/SS Kyle Bonak, 2B/RF Clay Everett, P/CF Logan Flood, P/RF Carson Foradas, 1B Trevor Gamble, 1B Jayson Hunter, 2B/LF Travis Patrick, SS/P Travis Ritter, C/P Jacob Sullivan and C/LF Sam Vidal.

Brooksville will be guided by Ed Ritter.

Since 2001, Ritter is 4-11 lifetime and is seeking his first win at the state level. Ritter will be assisted by Robbie Wardlow and John Sullivan.

In 2012, Ritter went 0-2 at states in this same age group.

Ritter's troops will be attempting to reach the state final in this age group for the first time since 2003 under skipper Cliff Manuel.

???To advance to Highlands County, Spring Hill's Junior All-Stars carved out their fifth straight District 6 title - and seventh across the past eight summers - by strafing host Brooksville on June 23, 18-2 (5 innings).

In the best-of-three series, Spring Hill outscored Brooksville, 37-2.

The 2013 Spring Hill Junior Boys All-Stars features: 3B/C/P Dakota Blevens, 1B/P/RF Reagan Chapman, SS/C/P Joey Delgatto, OF/C Andrew Dellea, 3B/SS/2B Michael Errerup, 3B/RF Zach Funkhouser, 1B/P/CF/C Jonathan Gates, LF/P/C Alex Hoover, 2B/LF/RF Jason Kirkpatrick, 2B/P Ryan Lotito Jr., SS/P/C Dalton Mosser, SS/LF/CF/P John Oliveira and 1B/DH Domenick Rado.

Twelve players typically make up the roster, but Dellea was activated when Chapman suffered a broken ankle.

The West Hernando club will be led by Ryan Lotito and assistant coaches Randy Mosser and Mike Rado.

On the lessons learned from districts, "We learned not to get complacent," pointed out Coach Lotito. "Honestly, I don't think districts are a good enough gauge to see where we're at."

According to Lotito, Spring Hill's 13s are chomping at the bit to return to action.

"We've had 40 practices and had two games," noted the frustrated Coach Lotito. "I stress to the kids that if they think they're good enough to win states they're going to have to practice hard, play hard and God willing get some breaks along the way."

Offensively, "Quite a few guys came through for us," detailed Coach Lotito. "Our guys 1-9 did not disappoint. Overall, we were very patient at the plate. We came up aces in one tournament. Now, it's time to do that again."

On what areas Spring Hill has concentrated on since districts, "I'd give us a B+ defensively in districts. It's hard to point fingers when you throw back-to-back no-hitters," said Lotito. "We were solid at catcher and pitcher, but we have to continue making the routine plays."

On his team's baserunning, "We didn't get an opportunity to showcase our small-ball game or even run the bases like we wanted to," shared Coach Lotito. "I'd give us an incomplete."

Lotito's troops will open at noon against Okeechobee.

In a tourney dating back to 1996, Okeechobee won this event in 2007 while Spring Hill captured states in 2011 under Jeff Hamilton.

On selling states to his team, "From here on out we have to be more consistent," declared Coach Lotito. "It starts with our pitching. We have to get ahead and stay ahead. The kids want back on the field, they're tired of drilling.

"We want to see good competition and see where we stand," Lotito said. "I'm sure every team there is very good. We'll learn a lot more through each game we play. My one concern is shaking off any staleness involved in not playing. Hopefully, we go out there and not miss a beat."

At a Glance

What: 39th annual Dixie Baseball Senior Boys (age 14) All-Stars State Tournament.

Who: Twelve teams in a double-elimination format including: Avon Park, Bartow, Brooksville, Hardee County, Havana, Key West, Mulberry, Spring Hill, Sumter County, West Seminole, Wildwood and host Sebring. Defending champion is Winter Haven's Florida Baseball Academy.

Where: City of Sebring's Max Long Baseball Complex.

When: Today through Wednesday.

At Stake: State champion advances to Aug. 3-7 12-team World Series at Seneca, S.C.

What: 18th annual Dixie Baseball Junior Boys (age 13) All-Stars State Tournament.

Who: Six teams in a double-elimination format including East Lakeland, Key West, Okeechobee, Spring Hill, West Seminole and host Highlands County. Defending champion is Sebring.

Where: City of Sebring's Max Long Baseball Complex.

When: Today through Wednesday.

At Stake: State champion advances to Aug. 3-7 World Series at South Commons in Columbus, Ga.

Road to "The Show"

District 6 Senior Boys (age 14) All-Stars Tourney Recap

at Brooksville's Ernie Weaver Youth Park

06-22:

Wildwood 12, San Antonio 11

Wesley Chapel 10, Bushnell 6

Spring Hill 12, Brooksville 0 (4.5 Innings)

06-23:

San Antonio 12, Bushnell 2

Wildwood 15, Wesley Chapel 12

06-24:

Brooksville 11, San Antonio 5

Spring Hill 16, Wildwood 1 (5)

06-25:

Wildwood 11, Wesley Chapel 0

Spring Hill 13, Brooksville 1 (4.5)

06-26:

(Championship)

Spring Hill 23, Wildwood 13 (4.5)

2013 District 6 Senior Boys (age 14) Standings at Brooksville's Ernie Wever Youth Park

PL TEAM W L .PCT RS RA

1. Spring Hill* 4 0 .000 64 15

2. Wildwood* 3 2 .600 52 62

3. Brooksville* 1 2 .333 12 30

4. Wesley Chapel 1 2 .333 22 32

5. San Antonio* 1 2 .333 28 25

6. Bushnell 0 2 .000 08 22

TOTALS (6) 10 10 .500

* Denotes teams that will advance to July 20 State Championship at Sebring.

2013 Spring Hill Senior Boys (age 14) All-Stars

NO. NAME POSITIONS

1 Stephen Bienstock* SS/OF

2 Bodhi Sbashnig* RF/2B

3 Luke Laferty* SS/C/2B/P

4 Logan Ross* CF/2B

5 Brett Maharaj CF/LF

7 Noah Siem* P/1B/RF

9 Trevor Vendrone* P/LF/3B

13 Robert Bunyon* P/LF/3B

23 Morgan Ashton 3B/SS/2B

24 Paul Coumoulos P/CF/3B

25 Dominic Marrone* 1B/P/3B

28 Nick Nguyen* C/RF

77 Zack Lawrence* C/3B

* Denotes 2012 Junior Boys all-star

Head Coach - Shawn Laferty

Assistant Coach - Tony Siem

Assistant Coach - Dale Ashton

2013 Spring Hill Senior Boys Baseball Statistics (thru 07-19)

Hitting (thru 07-19)

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

Lawrence 04 07 02 04 0 0 0 03 .571*

Siem 04 11 09 06 2* 0 0 03 .545

Marrone 04 13* 08 07* 1 1* 0 07 .538

Ashton 04 04 13* 02 1 0 1 09 .500

Nguyen 04 12 06 06 1 0 3* 08 .500

Maharaj 02 04 02 02 1 0 0 01 .500

Bunyon 04 13* 03 05 0 0 1 09 .384

Vendrone 03 08 05 03 1 0 2 04 .375

Laferty 04 10 11 03 0 0 0 00 .300

Coumoulos 04 13 03 03 1 0 1 12* .230

Ross 04 00 00 00 0 0 0 00 .000

Bienstock 01 00 02 00 0 0 0 00 .000

Sbashnig 01 01 00 00 0 0 0 00 .000

TOTALS (13) 04 96 64 41 8 1 8 56 .427

* Denotes team leader

Pitching (thru 07-19)

NAME AP GS CG IP H R ER BB K ERA W L

Bunyon 01 01 01* 5.0* 03 01 01 03 07* 1.40 1 0

Coumoulos 01 01 01* 5.0* 05 01 01 01 05 1.40 1 0

Siem 02* 01 00 3.1 06 10 10 07 05 21.02 1 0

Maharaj 01 00 00 3.2 07 03 03 00 02 5.73 1 0

Marrone 02* 00 00 3.0 01 00 00 01 05 0.00* 0 0

TOTALS 07 04 02 20.0 22 15 15 12 24 5.91 4 0

* Denotes team leader

2013 Brooksville Senior Boys (age 14) All-Stars

NO. NAME POSITIONS

00 Kyle Bonak 2B/SS

2 Sam Vidal* C/LF

3 Clay Everett* 2B/RF

6 Jayson Hunter 1B

7 Travis Patrick 2B/LF

8 Jacob Sullivan C/P

12 Trevor Gamble 1B

18 Carson Foradas P/RF

21 Scotty Bierwiler* P/3B

22 Logan Flood P/CF

99 Travis Ritter* SS/P

* Denotes 2012 Senior Boys All-star

Head Coach - Ed Ritter

Assistant Coach - Robbie Wardlow

Assistant Coach - John Sullivan

Past Hernando County Senior Boys State Results (2000-12)

- Compiled by TONY CASTRO

YEAR TEAM W L .PCT HEAD COACH

2001 Brooksville 1 2 .333 Gerald Johnson

2003 ^ Brooksville 3 2 .600 Cliff Manuel

2004 Spring Hill 3 2 .600 Doug DeRespris

2005 Spring Hill 1 2 .333 John Maggard

2008 $$ Spring Hill 5 1 .833 Mike Sollazzo

2009 Spring Hill 2 2 .500 Joe Abbadessa

2010 Spring Hill 4 2 .667 Shawn Laferty

2011 Brooksville 1 2 .333 Brent Young

2011 Spring Hill 4 2 .667 Vito Tambasco Sr.

2012 Brooksville 0 2 .000 Ed Ritter

2012 Spring Hill 3 2 .600 Gary Myers

TOTALS 27 21 .563 -11-

^ Denotes state runners-up

$$ Denotes state champion

Past Florida Dixie Senior Boys (age 14) State Champions

YEAR TEAM

1975 Larsen Center

1976 Northeast Pensacola

1977 Northeast Pensacola

1978 Medulla

1979 Lynn Haven

1980 Lynn Haven

1981 Pensacola

1982 Brent

1983 Brent

1984 Lynn Haven

1985 Lynn Haven

1986 Northeast Pensacola

1987 Lynn Haven

1988 Eagle Lake

1989 Pensacola-Pace

1990 Northeast Pensacola

1991 Northeast Pensacola

1992 Calhoun County

1993 Marianna

1994 Marianna

1995 Marianna

1996 Sebring

1997 Marianna

1998 Bartow

1999 Pensacola-Bellview

2000 Bartow

2001 Sebring

2002 Southport

2003 Sumter County

2004 Sebring

2005 Avon Park

2006 West Volusia

2007 Southport

2008 Spring Hill

2009 West Seminole

2010 West Seminole

2011 West Seminole

2012 Winter Haven-Florida Baseball Academy

-38-

2013 Spring Hill Junior Boys (age 13) All-Stars

NO. NAME POSITIONS

2 Ryan Lotito* 2B/P

7 Dalton Mosser SS/P/C

8 Alex Hoover LF/P/C

9 Zach Funkhouser 3B/RF

10 Jonathan Gates 1B/P/CF/C

11 Jason Kirkpatrick* 2B/LF/RF

12 Joey Delgatto SS/C/P

15 John Oliveira SS/LF/CF/P

18 Andrew Dellea OF/C

21 Reagan Chapman* 1B/P/RF (injured/broken ankle)

24 Dakota Blevens* 3B/C/P

27 Domenick Rado* 1B/DH

99 Michael Errerup 3B/SS/2B

* Denotes 2012 AAA Majors All-star

Head Coach - Ryan Lotito

Assistant Coach - Mike Rado

Assistant Coach - Randy Mosser

Road to "The Show"

District 6 Junior Boys (age 13) All-Stars Tourney Recap at Brooksville's Ernie Weaver Youth Park

06-22:

Spring Hill 19, Brooksville 0 (4.5 Innings)

06-23:

(Championship)

Spring Hill 18, Brooksville 2 (5)

2013 District 6 Junior Boys (age 13) Standings at Brooksville's Ernie Wever Youth Park

PL TEAM W L .PCT RS RA

1. Spring Hill* 2 0 1.000 37 02

2. Brooksville 0 2 .000 02 37

TOTALS 2 2 .500

* Advances to July 20 Junior Boys State Championship in Sebring.

Past Hernando County Junior Boys State Results (2000-12)

- Compiled by TONY CASTRO

YEAR TEAM W L .PCT HEAD COACH

2002 Brooksville 3 2 .600 Mike Bennett

2005 Spring Hill 2 2 .500 Terry Forgach

2006 Spring Hill 2 2 .500 Rob Owens

2007 Spring Hill 2 2 .500 Mike Sollazzo

2009 Brooksville 1 2 .333 Darren Niethammer

2009 ^ Spring Hill 4 2 .667 Jim Keith

2010 ^ Spring Hill 3 2 .600 Vito Tambasco Sr.

2011 Brooksville 0 2 .000 Jimmy Kimbrough

2011 $$ Spring Hill 5 0 1.000 Jeff Hamilton

2012 Spring Hill 1 2 .333 Shawn Laferty

TOTALS 23 18 .561 -10-

^ Denotes state runners-up

$$ Denotes state champion

Past Florida Dixie Junior Boys (age 13) State Champions

YEAR TEAM

1996 Avon Park

1997 Myrtle Grove

1998 Brooksville

1999 Myrtle Grove

2000 Sebring

2001 Southport

2002 Southport

2003 Southport

2004 Southport

2005 Tri-City

2006 Southport

2007 Okeechobee

2008 Poinciana

2009 West Volusia

2010 West Seminole

2011 Spring Hill

2012 Sebring

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