Clearwater wins in 12

Published May 7, 2005

DUNEDIN - Right before Cale Owen and Minner Labrador began taking their practice cuts as the leadoff and on-deck batters in the bottom of the 12th inning against Palm Harbor University at Knology Park, Clearwater coach Doug Banks told his two juniors that they needed to start hitting because the seniors weren't.

Owen led off with a double, his only hit of the night, and a game that was going into its third hour was shortly over when Labrador (3-for-5) doubled Owen home to give the Tornadoes a 3-2 win over the Hurricanes and their first district title since 1989. This is the first season in the last six that Dunedin did not win the championship.

Michael Booth pitched 10 innings for Clearwater, striking out 10 and taking a 1-0 lead into the sixth. Owen had scored the only run in the bottom of the first, when after being hit by a pitch he was driven in by Labrador. Booth allowed the last two of four PHU hits against him consecutively in the top of the sixth to Steve Lynch (2-for-5), who led off with a double, and Jim Richter, who singled. Richter stole second and he and Andrew Moltz scored two batters later on a tough infield error on a Cory Glass groundball to give PHU the lead.

Richter replaced PHU (16-6) starter Jeff Ludlow (six innings, five strikeouts) to but Booth saved himself from the loss by leading off with a hit. Devin Santa Maria, running for Booth, tied the game by scoring on a a wild pitch.

Booth went three-up, three-down through the 10th before David Warner (2-0) relieved to start the 11th. Glass (2-2) replaced Richter and took the loss after Clearwater (21-6) won it in the 12th.

A-7: Keswick falls

CLEARWATER - Cambridge starter Austin Welti didn't need his best stuff during a 5-2 win over Keswick in the semifinal.

Welti battled through control problems and a sprained right ankle suffered during Monday's quarterfinal win over Tampa Baptist to toss six shutout innings.

The lefty issued seven walks, but was backed by a strong infield that made eight groundball put-outs.

"He's got a football mentality," Cambridge coach Jack Cox said. "He's very tough."

Cambridge opened the scoring in the second on an RBI single by Chris Russell. The Lancers loaded the bases for Joe Brand, who walked to force home Welti.

Steve Gonzalez added a run-scoring single in the fourth as part of another two-run rally, but it wasn't enough to knock Keswick starter Nick Corrado from the game.

Corrado pitched out of several jams to strand nine Cambridge runners, and kept the Crusaders in contention long enough to mount a late-inning rally.

Corrado delivered a two-run single in the seventh to pull Keswick within striking distance. Keswick had the tying run at first when Welti buckled down to get a pop-up and a strikeout.

Calvary Christian rallied for five runs in the sixth against Canterbury to complete a 7-4 comeback victory. David Penn and Josh Muller each had run-scoring hits for Calvary Christian, which trailed 3-2 when rain suspended play on Thursday. Penn and Kyle Mullet combined to hold Canterbury to one run on Friday.

- ROVEN YAU, Times staff writer