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No lights out for Dade City

The senior baseball team defies darkness and Braden River to advance to the Southern Regional.

By STEVE LEE
Published August 3, 2006


DADE CITY - Some lights went out in the seventh inning of a Little League state final Tuesday, but the field remained bright enough for the Dade City Senior Baseball All-Stars to win their second title in three seasons.

His team having overcome a one-run deficit to take a 3-2 lead into the seventh, Dade City manager Geoff Wells was given an option by umpires to call the game at Port St. Lucie's Tradition Field, spring training home of the New York Mets.

"I said, 'Let's play,' " said Wells, whose outfielders told him they could see well enough to continue. "I didn't want to win a state championship that way."

When the outfield lights malfunctioned, Dade City had a 3-2 lead, but defending state champion Braden River had a runner on base with one out. After the game resumed, pitcher Aaron Brandt worked out of a bases-loaded, two-out jam by inducing a 6-3 groundout from shortstop Dustin Brown to first baseman Tyler Guy.

"It was very rewarding for our kids," said Wells, whose team avenged last year's 7-3 state final loss to Braden River. "They felt last year that they were a better team than Braden River. These boys, I'm very proud of them for what they did."

Dade City, 9-1 in winning district, sectional and state titles, advances to the Southern Regional that begins Friday in Toccoa, Ga. The team is one round shy of matching the 2004 Dade City squad that made it to the Senior Baseball World Series.

"We're going to move on," Wells said. "Like I told the boys, the hardest thing to do is get out of the state of Florida. Now, they're beyond last year's team."

Dade City went 4-1 at state, defeating Deerfield Beach 9-3 and Boynton Beach 12-0 before a 14-0 loss to Braden River in pool play. A 12-5 semifinal win over Callahan set the stage for a rematch with Braden River.

In the Callahan game, Brown pitched a two-hitter, striking out 14 and walking four to survive an erratic defense that led to three unearned runs.

"He just throws gas," Wells said of Brown, who has an 85-mph fastball. "He throws the ball so hard a lot of kids can't hit him."

Reyes Perez sparked a five-run first against Callahan with a three-run home run. Quinten Jones had four hits, including a two-run homer, and Jarrod Minton belted a homer. And each scored three runs.

In the state final, Jorge Jaramillo's two-run single in the sixth was the winning hit. Dylan Giella got Dade City on the scoreboard with a homer in the fourth.

Pitchers Brandt and Guy each earned a win in Saturday's doubleheader against Deerfield Beach and Boynton Beach. Ed Boyle and Minton each had three hits, and Brown homered against Boynton Beach.

Contact Steve Lee at lee@sptimes.com