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West Tampa rallies for win

By ROD GIPSON
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 2, 2002

TAMPA -- One team needed a huge comeback to stay alive. Another was snake-bitten on the pitching mound. And the home team continued to cruise during Saturday's American Legion tournament at Jefferson. West Tampa Post 248 struggled early against Sarasota Riverview but swiped a 4-3 come-from-behind win. But that comeback was nothing compared to New Port Richey Post 79, which rallied from a 9-2 deficit against Seminole Post 111 to win 17-15 in regulation. Seminole Post 111 followed that game with a 5-4 loss to Sarasota Riverview, which had its top pitcher for one game during the tournament because of scheduling conflicts.

That leaves host West Tampa Post 248 unbeaten in two games and the host to New Port Richey Post 79 at noon today. A win would send West Tampa to Gaither for a 3 p.m. game against the winner of that bracket. And a win there would bring West Tampa back to Jefferson to host the championship game against the Brandon/Durant bracket winner at 7.

In topping Sarasota Riverview, West Tampa overcame a 3-0 deficit after one inning.

An RBI double by Gerald Smith got West Tampa's offense in gear, leading to two runs in the second and two more in the fifth to win. West Tampa, comprised of high school players from Berkeley Prep, Jefferson and Plant, will send Justin Morris to the mound today against New Port Richey.

Against Seminole Post 111, Sarasota Riverview got four solid innings of relief from pitcher Robert Hinton, who missed most of the tournament with school and work obligations. Hinton, who entered the game against Post 111 in the fourth, allowed three hits and struck out four. He did allow two Post 111 runs that narrowed the score to 5-4, but retired the side 1-2-3 to close out the game, striking out the last hitter.

Nick Spatola and Ron Torrance each had two hits for Sarasota Riverview, including back-to-back singles that keyed a rally in the second. Sarasota Riverview scored three runs in that inning to take the lead before holding off Post 111 late.

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