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Dixie Baseball

Hernando Today correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 04:51 PM

If this weekend's Dixie AAA Majors (ages 11-12) All-Stars State Tournament at Brooksville's Ernie Wever Youth Park has a local feel beyond just the location, it should.

Of the nine teams in the scheduled event five call District 6 home.

The top four placers in last month's District 6 Tournament at Bushnell's Kenny Dixon Sports Complex will be joined by host Brooksville, which received a bye to states.

The field also features: Bushnell, San Antonio, Spring Hill American, Spring Hill National, Frostproof, DeSoto, Franklin County and Molino.

The double elimination-formatted event is set to begin today with four games – Brooksville drew a first-round bye till Monday – and concludes Thursday (weather permitting).

District 6 champion Bushnell arrives as the heavy tourney favorite. Head coach Mike Eastburn's club roared through districts outscoring the opposition by 58 runs, 62-4.

Bushnell, however, is not the defending state champion.

The Sumter County crew believes it has some unfinished business after placing runner-up to head coach Shawn Laferty's Spring Hill National squad in Lakeland last summer.

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

The HYL nine features: 3B/P Tavis Drake, C/LF Justin Wilson, P/C Patrick Dresser, 2B Carson Lashley, 1B Ryan Becker, CF Alex Kraft, SS/P Wyatt Stewart, LF William Garland, CF Colton Randlett, 2B/RF Devon Goncalves, RF Marrick Aske and P/1B William Coffey.

The Brooksville crew does not lack experience with nine returning All-Stars from either the AAA Majors or AAA Minors level in 2011: Drake, Wilson, Dresser, Lashley, Kraft, Stewart, Garland, Aske and Coffey.

HYL will be guided by first-year skipper Jamie Stewart. Coach Stewart will be assisted by Jason Wilson and Pat Garland.

Coach Stewart shared his first impressions of the club, "I think we've got some depth in our pitching and there will be some rotation in our outfield. We're coming together."

On whether his team is at a disadvantage for not playing in districts, "Personally, I would have rather played," admitted Coach Stewart. "I wish we would have. They ended up taking the top four teams. We'll see how that plays out. Having game experience helps ease those critical first-game jitters."

Coach Stewart praised his all right-handed pitching staff. He pointed to Coffey and Dresser as his two top hurlers.

"Both those guys have velocity and I'd call them both number ones," said Coach Stewart. "Drake and Wyatt (Stewart) are more the middle-inning guys. Neither throws as hard as either Coffey or Dresser."

Defensively, Coach Stewart believes Wilson and Dresser will anchor the catching position.

"They both have guns back there," described Coach Stewart. "Both block the ball well and Dresser is especially talented in that area."

Up the middle, look for Lashley and Goncalves to split time at second while Stewart is penciled in at shortstop and Drake holds down the hot corner.

Center fielder Kraft might be the team's smallest player, but as Coach Stewart described, "He's got tremendous wheels."

Offensively, Brooksville expects to open with Wilson at leadoff and Goncalves in the crucial second slot.

On Wilson, "He's a pretty consistent batter. He's not the quickest, but can lay it down," the coach said.

Goncalves, he added, "Loves hitting the ball up the middle."

The middle of the Brooksville lineup is expected to feature Wyatt Stewart, Dresser and the left-handed hitting Becker.

After playing several scrimmage games, Coach Stewart warns, "We can't continue to have two guys get, say, three hits and no one else helping. We're like anyone else, when our bats don't work, we tend to struggle."

On the tourney favorites, "Spring Hill National is not the team they had last year. To me, Bushnell has the stacked team," remarked Coach Stewart. "I went up to Bushnell and saw them play a few games. They're a great team, but baseball is a funny sport. Even great teams have bad days."

Brooksville opens the tourney at 1 p.m. Sunday against the survivor of today's Spring Hill National/DeSoto tilt.

"What we have on our side is we know Ernie Wever like the back of our hands," emphasized Coach Stewart, comparing the dimensions of the much more spacious Brooksville facility to the cozy confines of Bushnell's Kenny Dixon Sports Complex. "This is our home field, we know it well.

"This is my first rodeo, but I'm fortunate to have two great assistant coaches helping me," added Coach Stewart. "Our first game is critical. I told the boys, we don't want to go two-and-out. We have the team to compete if we bring our 'A' game."

On Brooksville's chances, "We have to match team's bat-for-bat and we have to play flawless defensively. We can't afford the throwing errors we had in our scrimmage games," noted Coach Stewart.

Spring Hill National finished a respectable second – in the nine-team field – to Bushnell last month.

This Spring Hill National edition features: CF/2B Enrique Brown, 2B/P/C Johnny Moran, INF/OF

Trevor Adler, SS/P Chris Cesiro, OF/1B Nick Collins, OF/3B/P Hailey Smith, P/1B Reagan Chapman, INF/OF/P Tyler Adler, 3B/P/C Dakota Blevens, P/C/OF Max Glenn, OF Will DiCono and 3B Brandon Reira.

Spring Hill National is guided by first-year All-Star skipper Will Glenn. Glenn will be assisted by Keith Moran and Anthony Cesiro.

On the plus side, the National nine (3-2 overall) outscored the opposition, 37-31. Both losses, however, were blowouts to Bushnell: 10-0 and 16-0.

In the district final, Spring Hill National's bats were chained by Bushnell's 6-foot-1½ right-hander Cornelluis Patterson. Patterson hurled a four-inning perfect game featuring 11 strikeouts. Not one ball was hit out of the infield.

Despite the struggles against Bushnell, Spring Hill National hit a collective .343 highlighted by two homers in 108 at-bats over the 180-foot fences in Sumter County.

Of the seven Spring Hill National hitters to hit over .300, Johnny Moran led the club with a fine .500 average with five hits in 10 at-bats.

Glenn, who hit .428, led the club in hits (six) and extra-base hits (four doubles). Stevie Clark, who hit .454, led the team in runs scored (six). Clark, however, will not be available.

According to Coach Glenn, "Clark is on a trip to Michigan (this week) to see his brother coming in from Afghanistan."

Clark will be replaced by Reira, "who has a lot of travel experience," Coach Glenn said.

Interestingly, Chapman had only two hits – both were homers – featuring a team-best eight runs batted in.

On the bump, Chapman led the club with a 2-0 mark. In eight innings, Chapman fanned a team-high 10 against six walks.

As a staff, Spring Hill National permitted 25 hits and 31 runs in 25 innings behind a higher-than-normal 4.80 earned run average.

Coach Glenn explained what his team might encounter in Brooksville.

"We're kind of going into this as an underdog. I'm not going to lie; Bushnell is probably the team to beat. Heck, they may even have their hotel reservations already booked," scoffed Coach Glenn. "We had a few uncharacteristic-type meltdowns against them – which we cannot afford to do.

"Going into districts I was really thinking that our defense was better. Yes, we won the games we should have, but we also allowed way too many unearned runs," he said." I need to do a better job coaching and shore up that part of the game for us."

The defending state champions open the tourney at 10 a.m. today against DeSoto.

"Right now our goal, just like it was in districts, is to win that first pitch Saturday morning," declared Coach Glenn. "I don't know a lot about DeSoto. but I know they didn't drive all this way to lose games. We just need to be productive and play the game properly. Reagan (Chapman) will start against them and go as long as we need him."

On the differences of playing in Brooksville, "Now that we're back on a field with 200-foot fences, as opposed to playing on the 180 over in Bushnell, I think it equalizes the teams a bit," noted Coach Glenn. "It (Ernie Wever) suits our style of baseball. Not to mention that I also think this team has a little chip on its shoulder. I think they're ready to compete. That said, I wouldn't want to play us right now."

The Spring Hill American All-Star squad features: OF/P Nick Vastano, OF Kobe Simon, OF Jason Kirkpatrick, SS/P/C Brandon Frangione, 2B/P Ryan Lotito, OF Brian Hlavac, 3B/P Richie Hopper, C/P/SS Kevin Tomas, OF Domenick Rado, OF Luke Howard, C/P Philip Orlando and 1B Jonathon Allion.

Spring Hill American is led by Frank Frangione (5-4 lifetime). Frangione will be aided by assistant coaches Mike Rado and Brian Hlavac.

Coach Frangione's club went .500 in districts behind a 2-2 run at Bushnell. Both district losses arrived courtesy of Bushnell, 9-3 and 14-1.

The American nine's wins were over Ridge Manor (18-0) and Wildwood (10-0).

On the plus side, Frangione's club hit a collective .355 with six batters hitting .300 or better.

All told, Spring Hill American clubbed eight homers by six different players in the Sumter County event.

Coach Frangione's son, Brandon, and Kirkpatrick led the team in hitting at .625. Brandon Frangione and Kirkpatrick each collected five hits.

Additionally, Brandon Frangione led the club in runs scored (seven), extra-base hits (four), homers (three) and RBI (seven).

On the hill, Spring Hill American hurlers collected 19 strikeouts in 18 innings. On the down side, the pitching staff alarmingly permitted more runs (23) and hits (23) than innings pitched (18).

Coach Frangione believes the team's elevated 4.33 ERA is a byproduct of his squad's inconsistent defensive play.

"We played together for 14 days before we got to districts. Now, we've played together for over a month. That familiarity makes a big difference," noted Coach Frangione. "I wish everyone could see what I see.

"There will be changes in our lineup and defensive alignment," emphasized Coach Frangione, without saying what they were. "Our pitchers can't be blamed when we don't play our best defense. Our staff allowed seven walks – that's darn good."

On the team's point of emphasis since districts, "We were misplaying too many routine plays," said Coach Frangione. "Those are plays that you have to make. Our pitchers shouldn't have to make 4-5-6 outs to get out of an inning.

"Those extra opportunities usually came against Bushnell. We made 14 errors at districts. You can't make that many mistakes and expect to win," noted Coach Frangione. "The big thing is a lot of it had to do with nerves and just settling down."

Coach Frangione believes his club has yet to play its best ball.

"We haven't accomplished anything yet," he scoffed. "And that's what I told the kids. I think our team is much better prepared to play this time. If the team I see in practice shows up, we'll be tough."

Spring Hill American debuts at states at 1 p.m. today against Franklin County.

"Franklin County is a mystery to us," admitted Coach Frangione. "But they haven't seen us, either."

Of the keys to the game, "That first inning against Franklin County is crucial," predicts Coach Frangione. "If we could open with a goose egg, that would help us tremendously. If we come in relaxed, it'll settle us down quickly."

On the tourney favorite, Coach Frangione pointed toward one team.

"Bushnell is definitely the favorite and they should be," he said. "Hopefully, we'll get another shot at them."

 

At a Glance

What – Dixie AAA Majors (ages 11-12) All-Stars State Baseball Tournament.

Who – Nine teams in a double-elimination format featuring: host Brooksville, Bushnell, San Antonio, Spring Hill American, Spring Hill National, Frostproof, DeSoto, Franklin County and Molino.

Where – Ernie Wever Youth Park.

When – July 14-19 (weather permitting).

At stake – State champion advances to the 12-team, Aug. 4-9 World Series in Bartow.

 

Dixie AAA Majors (ages 11-12) All-Stars District 6 Tournament Recap

at Bushnell's Kenny Dixon Sports Complex

06-16:

San Antonio – bye

Bushnell 9, Spring Hill American 3

South Lake 16, Ridge Manor 0

Spring Hill National 11, Sumter 2

Wildwood 6, Oak Griner 4

06-18:

Bushnell – bye

Oak Griner 9, Sumter 6

Spring Hill American 18, Ridge Manor 0 (3 Inns.)

Spring Hill National 16, Wildwood 3

South Lake 9, San Antonio 6

06-19:

Spring Hill National – bye

San Antonio 15, Oak Griner 0

Spring Hill American 10, Wildwood 0

Bushnell 13, South Lake 0

06-20:

Spring Hill American - bye

San Antonio 7, South Lake 6

Bushnell 10, Spring Hill National 0

06-21:

Spring Hill National 10, San Antonio 0

Bushnell 14, Spring Hill American 1

06-22:

(Championship)

Bushnell 16, Spring Hill National 0 (4 Inns.)

3rd Place – Spring Hill American.

4th Place – San Antonio.

NOTE: Bushnell, Spring Hill National, Spring Hill American and San Antonio advance to Florida State Championship at Brooksville's Ernie Wever Youth Park.

 

2012 Dixie AAA Majors (ages 11-12) District 6 Final Standings

PL TEAM W L .PCT RS RA

1. Bushnell 5 0 1.000 62 04

2. Spring Hill National 3 2 .600 37 31

3. Spring Hill American 2 2 .500 32 23

4. San Antonio 2 2 .500 28 25

5. South Lake 2 2 .500 31 26

6. Wildwood 1 2 .333 09 30

6. Oak Griner 1 2 .333 09 27

8. Sumter 0 2 .000 08 20

8. Ridge Manor 0 2 .000 02 34

TOTALS 16 16 .000

 

2012 Spring Hill American AAA Majors (ages 11-12) All-Stars

NO. PLAYER POSITION(S)

3 Nick Vastano OF/P

5 Kobe Simon OF

8 Jason Kirkpatrick OF

10 Brandon Frangione SS/P/C

12 Ryan Lotito 2B/P

15 Brian Hlavac OF

24 Richie Hopper 3B/P

28 Kevin Tomas C/P/SS

34 Domenick Rado OF

35 Luke Howard OF

44 Philip Orlando* C/P

52 Jonathon Allion* 1B

Head Coach – Frank Frangione (5-4 lifetime)

Assistant Coach – Mike Rado

Assistant Coach – Brian Hlavac

* Denotes 2011 AAA Majors/Minors All-Star

 

Spring Hill National AAA Majors (ages 11-12) All-Stars

NO. PLAYER POSITION(S)

00 Brandon Reira 3B

1 Enrique Brown CF/2B

2 Johnny Moran* 2B/P/C

3 Trevor Adler* INF/OF

5 Chris Cesiro SS/P

9 Nick Collins OF/1B

10 Hailey Smith* OF/3B/P

12 Reagan Chapman P/1B

22 Tyler Adler* INF/OF/P

24 Dakota Blevens* 3B/P/C

44 Max Glenn* P/C/OF

46 Will DiCono* OF

Head Coach – Will Glenn (3-2)

Assistant Coach – Keith Moran

Assistant Coach – Anthony Cesiro

* Denotes 2011 AAA Majors/Minors All-Star

 

Brooksville AAA Majors (ages 11-12) All-Stars

NO. PLAYER POSITION(S)

0 Tavis Drake* 3B/P

3 Justin Wilson* C/LF

9 Patrick Dresser* P/C

10 Carson Lashley* 2B

11 Ryan Becker 1B

12 Alex Kraft* CF

13 Wyatt Stewart* SS/P

24 William Garland* LF

33 Colton Randlett CF

34 Devon Goncalves 2B/RF

88 Marrick Aske* RF

99 William Coffey* P/1B

Head Coach – Jamie Stewart (0-0)

Assistant Coach – Jason Wilson

Assistant Coach – Pat Garland

* Denotes 2011 AAA Majors/AAA Minors All-Star

 

Spring Hill American AAA Majors Hitting Stats (thru 07-12)

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

Frangione, Brandon 04 08 07 05 1 0 3 07 .625

Kirkpatrick, Jason 04 08 04 05 2 0 1 04 .625

Allion, Jonathon 04 06 03 03 0 0 1 03 .500

Lotito, Ryan 04 09 03 04 1 0 0 01 .444

Orlando, Philip 04 09 03 03 2 0 1 05 .333

Rado, Dominick 04 03 00 01 0 0 0 02 .333

Simon, Kobe 04 07 03 02 0 0 1 04 .286

Vastano, Nick 04 07 03 02 1 0 0 02 .286

Hopper, Richie 04 04 02 01 0 0 1 02 .250

Tomas, Kevin 04 08 03 01 1 0 0 01 .125

Hlavac, Brian 04 04 01 00 0 0 0 01 .000

Howard, Luke 04 03 00 00 0 0 0 00 .000

TOTALS 04 76 32 27 8 0 8 32 .355

 

Spring Hill American AAA Majors Pitching Stats (thru 07-12)

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

Lotito 3 2 1 8.0 9 9 4 4 6 3.00 1 1

Frangione 2 1 1 4.0 2 1 1 1 8 1.50 1 0

Hooper 2 0 0 4.0 4 4 3 0 2 4.50 0 0

Tomas 2 1 0 2.0 8 9 5 2 3 15.0 0 1

TOTALS 9 4 2 18.0 23 23 13 7 19 4.33 2 2

 

Spring Hill National AAA Majors Hitting Stats (thru 07-12)

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

Moran, Johnny 05 10 05 05 0 0 0 03 .500

Clark, Stevie 05 11 06 05 2 0 0 06 .454

Glenn, Max 05 14 03 06 4 0 0 06 .428

Smith, Hailey 05 10 02 04 0 0 0 03 .400

Brown, Enrique 05 08 04 03 0 0 0 02 .375

Blevins, Dakota 05 11 05 04 0 0 0 03 .363

Chapman, Reagan 05 06 02 02 0 0 2 08 .333

Collins, Trevor 05 07 01 02 0 0 0 01 .285

DiCono, Will 05 07 03 02 0 0 0 00 .285

Adler, Tyler 05 08 02 02 0 0 0 02 .250

Adler, Trevor 05 05 01 01 0 0 0 00 .200

Cesiro, Chris 05 11 03 01 1 0 0 00 .090

TOTALS 05 108 37 37 7 0 2 34 .343

 

Spring Hill National AAA Majors Pitching Stats (thru 07-12)

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

Moran 2 2 0 4.0 7 11 5 3 4 7.50 0 1

Clark 2 0 0 6.0 4 4 3 3 9 3.00 1 0

Chapman 3 2 0 8.0 6 6 5 6 10 3.75 2 0

Cesiro 1 0 0 3.0 5 2 2 0 7 4.00 0 0

Glenn 2 1 0 3.0 2 4 4 3 8 8.00 0 1

Blevens 1 0 0 1.0 1 2 1 1 0 6.00 0 0

TOTALS 11 5 0 25.0 25 29 20 16 38 4.80 3 2

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