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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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Dunedin gets date with Georgia
By BRANDON WRIGHT
Published August 10, 2006
GULFPORT - Alex Hart took a few steps toward the mound, screaming encouragement. Kellen Brown pumped his fist into his glove, then readied for the pitch. And when Noah Klassen painted the inside back of the plate for strike three, Dunedin got exactly what it wanted: another shot at Georgia.
Hart hit a two-run homer and Will Honeycutt went five strong innings as Dunedin, representing Team Florida, beat North Carolina 4-2 Wednesday, setting up a rematch with Georgia in Friday's Little League Southeast Regional championship at Arnold S. White Stadium.
"Now we get a chance for redemption," Klassen said. "We'll be ready."
Georgia, which beat Alabama in the day's other semifinal, shocked Dunedin with a two-out walkoff grand slam in the sixth Monday. Now the stage has been set, live Friday night on ESPN at 7, with a trip to Williamsport, Pa., hanging in the balance.
"We've got to beat them this time," Hart said. "There's no choice."
Dunedin mustered just three hits, but one of them was colossal. After Brown drew a one-out walk, Hart took a letter-high fastball and cranked it over the centerfield fence for a 2-0 lead.
It was Hart's first-ever home run and the diminutive slugger celebrated by leaping high in the air, stomping on home plate with two feet before teammates mobbed him. Hart ran full speed out of the box and said he didn't know it was gone until first base coach Donnie Schnitzhofer began jumping up and down.
But other than Hart's blast, Dunedin's offense struggled. Out of 18 possible outs in the game, North Carolina pitchers fanned 17.
"We know we have to swing the bats better Friday than we did (Wednesday)," Dunedin manager Matt Morrow said. "But we capitalized when we had to."
Alex Koehl -- running for T.J. Bourdeau after his leadoff single - and Klassen scored on a pair of wild pitches, extending Dunedin's lead to 4-0 in the fifth.
Honeycutt struck out five in five innings and worked out of some tenuous jams. Honeycutt fanned Brandon Bailey and Griffin Ahlers with one out and runners on the corners in the second, then wiggled out of a bases-loaded, no-out pickle in the third.
Klassen relieved Honeycutt to start the sixth and warmed up to a chorus "Let's go, Noah" from the loud Dunedin crowd. And after a groundout and a pair of strikeouts, Dunedin was in the championship.
"We watched Maitland (last year's regional champs) lose in pool play and then win it all," Klassen said. "So we can do it too."
GULFPORT - J.T. Phillips tossed a no-hitter and Georgia connected for three more home runs to beat Alabama 11-0 in a game shortened to four innings due to the 10-run rule.
Georgia broke the game open in the third inning, sending nine batters to the plate and scoring five runs. Brady Hamilton, Matthew Kuhlenberg and Phillips had run-scoring singles in the inning
Phillips also hit a three-run homer and struck out 10. Kyle Carter hit his tournament-best sixth home run.
At Arnold S. White Stadium in Gulfport. Admission is free.
friday'S CHAMPIONSHIP: Dunedin (Florida) vs. Georgia, 7 p.m., ESPN