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Dunedin survives Dixie scare


© St. Petersburg Times, published April 11, 2001

DUNEDIN -- Dunedin brought its "B" game -- at best -- to the Englebert Complex on Tuesday.

Which might work fine against most teams. But surging Dixie Hollins, winner of 12 of its past 14 games, isn't most teams.

The Rebels, capitalizing on five Dunedin errors, staked leads of 3-1 and 7-4 and scared the daylights out of the Falcons before Dunedin rallied for a 9-8 win in nine innings.

"The kids stepped up when they needed to, and we took advantage of some mistakes," Dixie coach Jonathan Wiggins said. "It wasn't a real pretty game, but it was great baseball. It was a tough game for anybody to lose."

Dunedin, ranked No. 4 in the national poll released Monday by Baseball America (Seminole remained at No. 1) and No. 1 in Class 4A, improved to 20-1. Besides shoddy fielding and spotty pitching from starter John Irving, Dunedin's primary problem was Dixie catcher Ricky Kapp. Kapp, who missed several games early this season with a stress fracture in his foot, led off the second inning with a home run and then crushed two doubles off the fence.

His second double, in the fourth, chased Irving (31/3 innings, 7 runs, 3 earned) and put the Rebels ahead 6-4.

Kapp (3-for-4, two RBI) then scored on a dropped popup -- Dunedin's fourth error of the inning -- to make it 7-4.

Trailing 7-5 in the sixth, the Falcons rallied. Jeremy Bellotti (3-for-4, three runs), who pitched four innings of relief to earn the win, ripped a triple, and Kenny Holmberg (2-for-4, three runs) followed with an RBI double.

Holmberg scored on a sacrifice fly, and then Cody O'Connell stroked a home run that put Dunedin on top 8-7.

Dixie (13-6) tied it at 8 in the seventh on a two-out, two-strike single by Joe Castagner (2-for-4, two RBI) that scored Eric Trimble.

Dunedin finally prevailed in the ninth. Brad Chamberlain, who had a frustrating game that included hitting into two double plays, looped a single to right on an 0-2 pitch to score Matt Cheek from third.

"We didn't play well defensively," Dunedin coach Tom Hilbert said. "We had kids hang their heads, and ... we can't have that. Maybe this is something that will wake us up a little bit."

Brian Dopirak went 2-for-4 with a home run and four RBI for Dunedin.

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