tampabay.com

Tornadoes efficient

Clearwater wins 2-1 over Wellington despite only getting one hit.

By ERIC MUSKATEVC
Published March 23, 2005


DUNEDIN - Two runs off of one hit was all Clearwater needed Tuesday night in its 2-1 quarterfinal victory over last year's Dunedin Spring Classic champion, Wellington.

Fighting off a powerful opposing pitching performance, the Tornadoes capitalized on the basepaths and starting pitcher Michael Ortega cruised.

Tyler Herron (4-1) struck out 10 in a complete game for Wellington, which fell behind in the top of the first when Cale Owen came home on one of three errors Wellington committed in the game. Wellington tied it in the third but Minner Labrador, who singled and stole second, came home on another wild throw to third base in the fourth. Labrador's single was Clearwater's only hit.

"We come running off the bus," said Clearwater coach Doug Banks. "We're aggressive. And we knew we'd have to be against them."

Ortega (3-0) also pitched a complete game for the Tornadoes, scattering eight hits and striking out six batters. Ortega's control in the late innings helped Clearwater (7-1) keep the lead.

"He's one of the smartest ballplayers I've ever had the privilege to coach," Banks said. "He had control of his stuff tonight and kept us in there."

Wellington (7-6) was poised to come back in the seventh with a runner on first and one out. But on a hit to rightfield, John Merkle threw out the runner out at third base.

"You got to come out and play," Banks said. "We're in this tournament to see this kind of competition because in my opinion, we're in the toughest district around. I told the kids this is what will get us ready for districts, these close games."

Clearwater advanced to the semifinals of a tournament it last won in 1996. The Tornadoes face Northeast at 8 tonight at the Englebert Complex.