tampabay.com

Dunedin pitcher Mills highlights day's action

By ERIC MUSKATEVC
Published March 23, 2005


DUNEDIN - By Tuesday night's end, everyone at the Englebert Complex had a story to tell.

Amongthe stories at the Dunedin Spring Classic were headlining pitching performances, game-winning errors, and an unusual variety of hootin' and hollerin'.

Nobody's day was better than Kyle Mills'. Mills (2-2) faced just two batters over the game minimum for tournament host Dunedin and allowed no hits in his seven-inning shutout to beat previously undefeated Pasco 1-0.

Dunedin backed him with just one run, earned on a passed ball in the third inning when Jeff Cheek (2-for-4) came home. Pasco's Kenneth Statham (3-1) was solid on the opposite end, going six innings and striking out seven.

"Amazing," Dunedin coach Tom Hilbert said. "(Mills is) a competitor and a pleasure to coach."

Mills struck out seven and walked one.

"I tried not to think about it. Everyone in the dugout was a little quiet," Mills said.

Clearwater garnered just one hit against last year's Classic champion Wellington (7-6), but scored two runs on good base-running, which was enough to overcome the Wolverines 2-1.

Tyler Herron (4-1) threw a 10-strikeout complete game for Wellington, which fell behind in the first inning when Cale Owen came home on one of three Wellington errors. Wellington tied it in the third inning, but Minner Labrador, who singled and stole second base, came home on another wild throw to third base.

"We come running off the bus," Clearwater coach Doug Banks said.

Michael Ortega (3-0) pitched a complete game for the Tornadoes, scattering eight hits and striking out six. Ortega's control in the late innings held Clearwater (7-2) in the lead.

"He's one of the smartest ballplayers I've ever had the privilege to coach," Banks said.

The intensity rose as the final game of the evening came to a close. Palm Harbor University tied Miami Springs 2-all in the fourth inning on a two-run passed ball error and took the lead at 3-2 in the sixth. Chris Connolly tripled and Jim Richter singled him in.

Miami (10-3) scored four runs in the sixth after a slew of Hurricane errors and won 6-3. Andrew Moltz (2-1) took loss in his first outing back from a three-week old ankle injury, but it was the brand of baseball that Miami played that had the tournament crowd in commotion.

At times Miami players on the base path would get PHU starting pitcher Jeff Ludlow (five innings pitched, five strikeouts, three runs) into a pickle by standing in shallow outfield. After a breakdown of the rules, the Miami players were allowed to stand there, but it did not stop the dugout chanting, which frequently included vulgarity.