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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Deja vu, then a defensive stand
By DOUG KATES
Published August 10, 2006
GULFPORT - A home run, two singles, walks and wild pitches helped produce runs Wednesday night for Dunedin, but just as important as the offense was stout defense, which played a huge role in a 4-2 semifinal victory over North Carolina.
On Monday night, Dunedin could only watch as Georgia loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth inning and won the game with a grand slam home run.
Forty-eight hours later Dunedin held a 2-0 lead over North Carolina, and a similar situation to Monday night was taking shape. North Carolina loaded the bases on two singles and a walk in the third, and were one big hit from bringing back bad memories for the Florida team. But this time things went differently.
With no outs and the bases loaded, Will Honeycutt grabbed a grounder back to the mound and threw home for a force out. Shortstop Alex Koehl made a lunging catch on a ball up the middle for the second out. Then Honeycutt stopped the threat with his third strikeout of the game.
"I threw three strikes," Honeycutt said. "He couldn't touch me."
Assistant coach Dave Brackenhamer said during the bases-loaded situation the kids on the field appeared more at ease than the coaches.
"It was not a calm feeling," Brackenhamer said. "A single here or a double there and it would have been a new ballgame. Defensively it was an edgy situation, but we hang our hats on pitching and defense."
Honeycutt said he didn't have to be reminded about Georgia loading the bases and scoring four runs. He admits he normally talks to himself and the baseball when he's on the mound. When North Carolina loaded the bases, he said his "talk" turned into a conversation.
"I told myself, 'Come on throw strikes,' " he said. "I told (the ball) to go over the plate."
The coaching staff pulled the infield in and the defense was alerted to be prepared for a play at the plate, which is exactly how the first out took shape. Honeycutt grabbed the grounder hit to him and threw home for the force out. He said he was prepared for the play before it happened.
"That's basic baseball," he said. "You learn that."
The second out was Koehl's second catch of the night. He finished the game with three put outs, three assists and no errors.
"I wasn't nervous," Koehl said. "I knew where the ball had to go before every play."
"He's really an all-star," Honeycutt said. "He's one of a kind. He makes a lot of great plays and saves me in many innings."
Once the second out was recorded, Honeycutt said he knew it was time to handle the third out himself.
"I was in the driver's seat," he said, and he got the job done in five pitches.
Koehl said the grand slam against Georgia left him and his teammates down after the game, but it also proved to be a lesson.
"We weren't happy," he said. "We walked people. We didn't know what to do."
"They were angry and they were mad," Brackenhamer said. "But pitching didn't lose that game."
Dunedin gets a chance to avenge that loss in the final Friday night at 7 against Georgia.