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Dixie Baseball

Hernando Today correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 04:43 PM

It's been three weeks since Spring Hill American's AAA Minors (ages 9-10) All-Stars departed Sumter County with hardware – albeit the bridesmaid trophy from the District 6 Tournament.

At the Kenny Dixon Sports Complex, host Bushnell celebrated the championship behind an impressive 5-0 run. The Sumter County nine shredded the opposition by 41 runs, 59-18.

In its wake, head coach Jacquinto Arredondo's team solved Spring Hill American twice: 10-8 and 11-6.

The West Hernando County club fared well finishing 4-2 overall, outscoring the opposition 69-37.

Both District 6 entries help comprise the 12-team field in this weekend's AAA Minors State Tournament at the Max Long Recreational Complex in Sebring.

The field also includes: host Sebring, West Seminole, Marianna, Callaway, Lake Placid, South Walton, East Lakeland, Mulberry, Calhoun County and Holmes County.

The Highlands County event features a double-elimination format and will run July 7-12 (weather permitting).

The eventual state champion will advance to the 12-team, Aug. 4-9 World Series in Bartow.

The last Spring Hill team to reach the state finals in this age group was Jim Keith's American squad in 2006 – that squad finished runner-up behind a 5-3 run.

The year before head coach David Smith's Spring Hill National nine pulled off what was considered a near impossible feat.

Smith's club finished third in districts and was invited to states in Okeechobee as an afterthought.

After dropping its first game at states, Smith's club rallied for seven straight victories and Spring Hill's first-ever state title.

Veteran Spring Hill American skipper Joe Abbadessa returns to states following last year's 2-2 AAA Minors run. Abbadessa will be assisted by Jason Molka and Al Blevens.

The Spring Hill American roster features: 2B/OF/P Chase Davis, OF/2B David Abbadessa, SS/C/P Logan Blevens, 3B/P/OF Dylan Najuch, OF/SS/P Zeth Rodriguez, OF Ryan Richard, 3B/P/C/OF Jaden Rivera, 1B/OF/P Jonathan McMath, 1B/P/OF Zach Stone, 3B/OF/P Jason Bienstock, SS/C/P Yoskar Lopez and C/OF/P Brian Erb.

In a recent roster move, Richard replaced Max O'Rourke. O'Rourke, who hit .471 at Bushnell, is out of town this week on a family vacation. It's the second straight summer he's missed states due a family vacation.

"It hurts losing anyone of Max's caliber," said Coach Abbadessa. "But Ryan is no stranger to All-Stars. He's been an all-star for the past two years. It's not like we're replacing Max with someone who is completely green."

Reflecting back to districts, Abbadessa admitted there were plenty of positives in Bushnell and there were also several areas to shore up.

On the plus side, Spring Hill American's offense averaged 11.5 runs per game behind a collective .414 team batting average.

Hitting-wise, seven Spring Hill American batters hit over .400 including: McMath (.647), Stone (.588), Rodriguez (.571), Lopez (.500), Blevens (.474), O'Rourke and David Abbadessa (.429).

McMath sizzled leading the local nine it hits (11), extra-base hits (five), runs batted in (13) and batting average. McMath also ranked second in runs scored (nine) to Blevens (11).

Blevens stroked the team's lone homer in Bushnell.

"In our first game, Jonathan (McMath) didn't have a hit. He went 0-for-3," recalled Coach Abbadessa. "But from that point forward, people couldn't get him out. He's the type of guy that the hotter he gets, the more dangerous we become."

Coach Abbadessa praised his leadoff batters Blevens and Bienstock for setting the table.

"Both of them did really well," Coach Abbadessa said. "And I've seen Jason (Bienstock) hit over a period of time. He didn't hit as well (.294) as he's capable of. That's scary; wait till he gets hot."

Assessing his team's offense, "Our stats were a little inflated after the first three games," noted Coach Abbadessa, who enters states 21-9 lifetime. "Our bats kind of went soft during our last three games. The thing that stands out with this group is they all can hit. And we had several clutch hits during the tournament."

On the hill, Abbadessa was not encouraged by his team's cumulative pitching performance.

Overall, Spring Hill American hurlers displayed several red flags allowing 28 hits in 30 2/3 innings, recording more walks (32) than strikeouts (24) while carrying a combined 6.97 earned run average.

Lopez led the mound staff by not allowing an earned run in 4 1/2 innings.

Despite issuing eight walks, Rivera fared well with seven strikeouts in seven innings.

Stone, who is believed to be the team's hardest thrower, struggled with his command allowing five runs (all earned) along with seven walks in 1 1/3 innings.

O'Rourke, who fanned a team-best eight batters, also struggled allowing 12 runs (eight earned) on nine hits across 7 2/3 innings.

"Pitching-wise, Yoskar (Lopez) was great and Jaden (Rivera) did a phenomenal job," pointed out Coach Abbadessa. "I thought Zeth was done-in a little bit by our lack of consistency on defense.

"And Zach really throws hard, but he had trouble locating."

As far as remedies Coach Abbadessa said, "Our last three games were probably the three worst defensive games I've ever seen us play. We made a lot of silly mistakes.

"Errors are like a virus. At the end of the tournament it was like we got a case of yips and it got worse and worse," said Coach Abbadessa. "Everything starts with pitching. We have to do a better job on our walks-to-strikeouts ratio – that's for sure."

Spring Hill American opens the state tourney with a 9 a.m. Saturday tilt against Callaway.

"We only have two kids with previous experience at states," emphasized Coach Abbadessa. "Overall, we're lacking in experience at this level. We're not going to see weak teams from here on out.

"To me, the key is how we manage our pitching staff," said Abbadessa. "Initially I thought travel ball tournaments were similar to Dixie state tournaments. But they're not. You can't replicate the intensity we faced in Bushnell or what we'll face in Sebring.

"We don't know anything about Callaway, but they won't know much about us, either," he added. "If we take what we learned from districts and apply it in Sebring, we could have something to say."

As far as tourney favorites, "West Seminole won the Rookies (ages 7-8) state tourney last year. They beat Bushnell in the finals. So, that's two teams to look out for. And Sebring was the only team to beat West Seminole last year, so they should have a number of quality kids back.

"After those three teams, I think East Lakeland and us are kind of bunched together," predicted Abbadessa. "I don't think we can be included in the discussion (for a state championship) until we pick off one of those teams in front of us."

 

2012 Spring Hill American AAA Minors (ages 9-10) All-Stars
NO.  PLAYER     POSITION(S)
1  Chase Davis*  2B/OF/P
2 David Abbadessa* OF/2B
3 Logan Blevens*  SS/C/P
5 Dylan Najuch*  3B/P/OF
7 Zeth Rodriguez  OF/SS/P
13 Jaden Rivera  3B/P/C/OF
15 Jonathan McMath* 1B/OF/P
18 Ryan Richard*  OF
20 Zach Stone  1B/P/OF
23 Jason Bienstock  3B/OF/P
24 Yoskar Lopez  SS/C/P
90 Brian Erb  C/OF/P 
Head Coach – Joe Abbadessa (21-9 lifetime)
Asst. Coach – Jason Molka
Asst. Coach – Al Blevens
* Denotes 2011 AA Rookies/AAA Minors All-Star

 

Spring Hill American AAA Minors All-Stars Hitting Stats (thru 07-06)
NAME   GP AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI .AVG
McMath, Jonathan 06 17 09 11 5 0 0 13 .647
Stone, Zach  06 17 06 10 2 0 0 07 .588
Rodriguez, Zeth  06 07 06 04 0 0 0 02 .571
Lopez, Yoskar  06 14 04 07 0 0 0 04 .500
Blevens, Logan  06 19 11 09 2 0 1 06 .474
O’Rourke, Max  06 17 07 08 2 1 0 07 .471  
Abbadessa, David 06 14 05 06 0 0 0 08 .429 
Rivera, Jaden  06 10 04 03 0 0 0 03 .300
Bienstock, Jason 06 17 08 05 0 0 0 03 .294
Erb, Brian  06 08 01 01 0 0 0 00 .125
Davis, Chase  06 10 04 01 0 0 0 01 .100
Najuch, Dylan  06 07 01 00 0 0 0 00 .000
TOTALS   06 157 66 65 11 1 1 54 .414

 

Spring Hill American AAA Minors All-Stars Pitching Stats (thru 07-06)
NAME  AP IP R ER H BB KO ERA W   L
Rivera  3 7.0 4 3 3 8 7 3.86 1 0
Rodriguez 3 6.2 7 4 6 5 4 5.41 1 1
O’Rourke 3 7.2 12 8 9 2 8 9.40 0 0
Lopez  3 4.1 2 0 3 1 2 0.00 1 0
Stone  2 1.1 9 5 5 7 1 33.8 0 1 
McMath  1 2.0 3 3 1 6 1 13.5 0 0
Najuch  1 1.2 1 1 1 3 1 4.50 1 0
TOTALS  16 30.2 38 24 28 32 24 6.97 4 2

 

Dixie Baseball AAA Minors (ages 9-10) District 6 Tourney Recap
at Bushnell’s Kenny Dixon Sports Complex

06-09:
Bushnell 14, Wesley Chapel National 0
San Antonio 13, Wildwood 6
Spring Hill National 21, Ridge Manor 2
Wesley Chapel American 19, South Lake 16
Spring Hill American 15, Oak Griner 0 (3 Inns.)

06-11:
Bushnell 11, San Antonio 2
Wesley Chapel American 17, Spring Hill National 8
Spring Hill American 17, Brooksville-HYL 3
Wesley Chapel National 17, Wildwood 3
South Lake 18, Ridge Manor 0

06-12:
Bushnell – bye
Spring Hill American 15, Wesley Chapel American 7
Wesley Chapel National 17, South Lake 13
San Antonio 9, Oak Griner 2
Spring Hill National 16, Brooksville-HYL 5

06-13:
Bushnell 10, Spring Hill American 8
Wesley Chapel National 13, Wesley Chapel American 3
Spring Hill National 8, San Antonio 3

06-14:
Bushnell 13, Wesley Chapel National 2
Spring Hill American 8, Spring Hill National 6

06-15:

(Championship)
Bushnell 11, Spring Hill American 6
NOTE: Bushnell and Spring Hill American advance to July 7-13 Florida State Championship at Sebring.

 

2012 AAA Minors (ages 9-10) District 6 Final Standings
PL TEAM    W L .PCT RS RA
1. Bushnell   5 0      1.000 59 18
2. Spring Hill American  4 2 .667 69 37
3.(tie) Spring Hill National  3 2 .600 59 35
3.(tie) Wesley Chapel National  3 2 .600 49 46
5. San Antonio   2 2 .500 27 27
5. Wesley Chapel American  2 2 .500 46 52
7. South Lake   1 2 .333 47 36
8. Wildwood   0 2 .000 09 30
8. Brooksville-HYL   0 2 .000 08 33
8. Ridge Manor   0 2 .000 02 39
8. Oak Griner   0 2 .000 02 24
 TOTALS    20 20 .000 

 

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