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Palm Harbor in the thick of it

By ROVEN YAU
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 28, 2002

TAMPA -- The Palm Harbor All-Stars find themselves in the middle of a four-team sandwich after the first day of play at the Major baseball state tournament.

In the first game Saturday, Palm Harbor dropped a 7-2 decision to defending state champion Apopka. Apopka scored four runs in the bottom of the first after Palm Harbor jumped out early in its first at-bat. Apopka went on to score another run in the third and two more in the fifth to put the game out of reach.

Palm Harbor could only muster three hits against Apopka starter Cory Jones. Jamison Sweat went two-for-three and drove in Palm Harbor's first run.

Palm Harbor bounced back and won the late game 11-2 over Julington Creek.

"It gives us some momentum," Palm Harbor coach Ed Garton said. "The kids know the stakes at risk and they've always been able to step up for us."

David Gubernick pitched the first six innings for the win. Gubernick supported also hit a three-run home run in the third to increase Palm Harbor's lead to 6-0.

Joey Zakshevsky struck out the side in the seventh. Greg Donovan had a run-scoring double and Ryan Garton smacked an RBI triple. Zack Sobel had four hits.

The win over Julington Creek sets up a variety of potential three-way tie scenarios. The tiebreaker rules have come under intense criticism after Citrus Park Major softball coach Mario Mirabal used questionable tactics to gain the upper hand in a game Friday night.

"I hope we don't have to go through that," Garton said. "The one thing we need to do is to really keep our runs-given up down. We need to keep runs off the scoreboard."

Palm Harbor has the upper hand in a tiebreaker situation. It plays the late game today against Niceville. Julington Creek will play Apopka at 1 p.m.

If Apopka wins, it will capture the top seed in the North Pool. However, a Julington Creek win, combined with a Palm Harbor win, will set up a three-way tie for first place. A Julington Creek loss combined with a Palm Harbor loss will create a three-way tie for second place. The only way Palm Harbor can advance without using a tiebreaker is if Julington Creek loses and Palm Harbor wins.

The tiebreaker for a three-way tie is based on the lowest number of runs allowed per inning through round-robin play.

JUNIOR BASEBALL: Ryan Webb scored the game-winning run on a passed ball as Dunedin American beat Port St. John 2-1 to begin play at the state tournament. Josh Paquette pitched six innings for the win.

SENIOR BASEBALL: The heat wasn't enough to stop Pinellas Park National from winning an eight-inning, 11-10 affair over Rockledge at Orange City.

Starter Ryan Koch pitched the first four innings, striking out five while allowing three hits. Kyle Griffith, Danny Miller, Sean Johnson, and Jimmy Haas each pitched one inning.

Jimmy Haas broke a 10-10 tie in the top of the eighth with a solo home run. Haas had four hits in the game, and shut down Rockledge in the bottom half of the inning for the win.

Kyle Scott had two hits, including a two-run homer. Steve Mullins had four hits and helped Pinellas Park National rally for six runs in the top of the sixth.

Kyle Scott's second home run of the day was all the offense Pinellas Park National would need in a 1-0 win over San Mateo in the team's second game as it advanced to Port St. Lucie for the semifinals Monday.

Starter Sean Johnson took care of the San Mateo lineup, striking out nine and allowing three hits. Catcher Justin Marlow had a hit and picked off two runners at first base.

Pinellas Park National can wrap up the North Pool on Sunday with a victory over Niceville, the only team in the pool without a win. Rockledge and San Mateo will duke it out for a place in the final four Sunday.

FLML JUNIOR BASEBALL: Northwest secured a spot in the semifinals Monday with a 10-3 win over Tallahassee Messer. Aaron Tullo tossed a complete game, striking out 13 and allowing only three hits. Tullo also hit a home run and drove in three runs. Mike Freda also hit a home run and drove in four runs.

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