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CCC's rally falls one step short

The Marauders lose 6-5 to Palm Beach Gardens Wellington in Dunedin's tournament.

Published March 27, 2004

DUNEDIN - There are few places better to stage a comeback than Friday night at Knology Park in the Dunedin Baseball Tournament championship.

And Clearwater Central Catholic was a few millimeters, perhaps just one, shy of doing just that. Down by one with the bases loaded and just one out in the final inning, CCC definitely had a chance to do it, but a double play abruptly ended the Marauders' rally, and they fell 6-5 to Palm Beach Gardens Wellington (9-6).

"We all knew we were going to come back," Marauders catcher Dave Papa said. "We all thought that. That's what we do."

CCC (8-4) was down to its last inning, trailing 6-3 at the top of the seventh. Sophomore Brett McKean was walked by Wellington's Matt Dunn, and junior Bobby Uzdavines skipped a grounder through the gap between second and third base. Senior Chris Heil hit a hard grounder to third, but the ball was fumbled, the throw to first late and Heil was safe.

With one out, (Geoff Craig struck out earlier) John Petika stepped up with the bases loaded. The third pitch to Petika, a third ball, got by Wellington catcher T.J. Wagner and McKean slid into home to pull the Marauders within two.

Petika was intentionally walked, loading the bases and setting up a possible double play. But Dunn's first pitch to his next batter, Ryan Webb, was around Webb's neckline and once again got by Wagner, allowing Uzdavines to sprint home, putting CCC within one.

"They were down one," Wellington's Ed Bloom said. "I figured they'd do anything to get the run across."

And he'd do anything to end the game. Still just one out, Webb was intentionally walked to load the bases again. This time it worked for Wellington. Burke Hedges hit a grounder to the short stop, who quickly threw a sliding Webb out at second. The turn to first barely beat Hedges to end the game.

"There's 100 chances to have something happen," CCC coach Todd Vaughan said. "We can't worry about one play going our way or going their way. It shouldn't come down to that."

The Marauders struggled from the mound at the start of the game.

CCC starter John Petika, a senior, allowed two runs in two innings, struck out just one and hit three players with the ball. Sophomore Charlie Olson came in throwing well, but two of the four hits he allowed in four innings were home runs, both with runners on base. Ryan Cheatham hit a homer to far rightfield in the third to score two, and Colby Coates, the tournament MVP, had a homer in the fifth worth two runs as well.

"Wellington played well," Vaughan said. "They hit the ball when they needed to hit the ball . They deserved to win."

The Marauders got three runs on five hits in four innings off of Wellington's starter, junior Tyler Herron, who was in his first start for the team.

It was a good week for the Marauders, who were on a five-game win streak before Friday's loss. Vaughan said he was impressed by his team, which found some missing offense in the tournament.

"They did everything we asked of them," Vaughan said. "We grew a lot this week. I think they showed toughness, some things they thought they might not have had."

[Last modified March 27, 2004, 02:10:29]

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