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Last seed Sickles has the last laugh

The school's baseball team wins its first Saladino Tournament.

By ROD GIPSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 1, 2001


CITRUS PARK -- Sickles started the baseball season 1-9 and came into the Saladino Tournament as the last seed, but the team swept through the tournament and continued its momentum.

The Gryphons won six straight contests, including a convincing 10-0 win against Armwood in the championship game, to win their first Saladino Tournament.

In the championship game against the Hawks, senior Greg Leimkuehler threw a two-hit shutout, and junior second baseman Ernie Diaz went 3-for-4 with a triple, three runs scored and four RBI. Infielder Grant Chapman scored the game-ending run on Brian Rojas' single in the bottom of the sixth, which ended the contest because of the 10-run rule.

Chapman earned tournament MVP honors after a grand slam in a 10-2 win against Plant and another homer in the 15-2 tournament-opening win against Hillsborough.

Gaither and Wharton each advanced to the tournament semifinals while Leto and Chamberlain each went 1-3. The Gryphons (8-9) continued their solid play Tuesday with a 4-1 win against Durant.

Here are other standout Saladino performances:

Gaither's Eric Thompson had a game-winning RBI as the Cowboys beat Brandon 5-4.

Sickles pitcher Brian Scoville threw a complete game shutout while allowing seven hits in the Gryphons' 4-0 win against Jefferson.

Leto's Antoine Ware set a tournament record with 11 hits in the Falcons' four games.

Wharton's Wayne Hedden pitched six scoreless innings and hit a triple in the Wildcats' 1-0 win against Plant City.

Gaither second baseman Brian Crain hit two doubles, including one that knocked in the winning run in an 8-6 win against Palm Beach Gardens.

MORE BASEBALL: Gaither's Ryan Anderson fired a no-hitter Tuesday against Bloomingdale. A senior left-hander, Anderson struck out a school-record 15 batters en route to the 1-0 victory. With a 6-0 record, 60 strikeouts and a 1.12 ERA, Anderson ranks among the county's top pitchers. Wharton's Wayne Hedden also is among the best at 6-1 with a 0.78 ERA; as is Scoville, who is 3-1 with 33 strikeouts and a 1.04 ERA.

Offensively, Billy Wimberly of Wharton leads the county with a .519 batting average. Wimberly has a county-best 27 hits and has knocked in 16 RBI. Yariel Vignau of Leto is among the top 10 with a .450 average. Wharton's Rich Eber (.456), Gaither's Kris Howell (.421) and Leto's Ware (.414) also are among the area's best.

TRACK & FIELD: Wharton's Hillsborough County dominance stretched to Pinellas County on Tuesday when the Wildcats boys and girls teams each won meets. The boys won the Ed Wells Kiwanis meet in Clearwater. The girls won the Seminole Rotary Invitational in Seminole.

Dwight Ellick won the 100- and 200-meter events, and Stuart Carrico won the 800-meter run as the Wildcats outdistanced second-place Lakewood by 42 points. On the girls side, Wharton's Kendra Smith set a meet record with a 28-foot, 3/4-inch leap in the triple jump. She also won the 110 hurdles. Teammate Carmen Crespo won the high jump.

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