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Senior no-hits Royal Knights

Dave Hancox strikes out six to lead Ridgewood past River Ridge 6-0 in a Class 5A, District 9 quarterfinal.

By JOHN C. COTEY

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 25, 2001


NEW PORT RICHEY -- Dave Hancox had just turned in the best outing of his career, and his reward from Ridgewood coach Larry Beets was a rake to smooth out the very pitching mound the senior had just thrown a no-hitter off.

"And he needs to put some more dirt on it, too," Beets said.

And why not? He had just finished shoveling the last heap of dirt on River Ridge's grave, ending the Royal Knights' season with a near-perfect outing in a 6-0 win in the district quarterfinals.

Hancox was perfect through four innings, worked out of a jam in the fifth and put the Royal Knights down in order the rest of the way to complete the first no-hitter by a Ridgewood pitcher since Mike Rabelo in 1998, according to Beets.

"And against your biggest rival with all the marbles on the table?" Beets said. "Outstanding."

Hancox said he had no idea he had pitched a no-hitter until Derek Kuryliw told him immediately afterward. Beets said the bench was silent the last few innings, and "if anyone would have said anything, I would have hit them."

But the only ones doing any hitting were the Rams, who did most of their damage in the first two innings when they scored five runs, all with two outs.

After River Ridge starter Justin Roth retired the first two batters of the game, Kuryliw unloaded a deep drive for his 11th home run of the year to make it 1-0.

In the second, Roth again retired the first two hitters. But Josh Leroy singled and scored when Justin Libecap homered. After an infield single by Richie Hittel, Mike Sentner hit his fourth home run to make it 5-0.

Hancox struck out six and improved to 8-2 as the Rams move into the semifinals tonight against No. 1 seed East Lake.

4A-6: Wardell leads Zephyrhills to win

BROOKSVILLE -- Danny Wardell the slugger provided Zephyrhills with a modest measure of respect during a 10-18 regular season. Danny Wardell the pitcher provided the fifth-seeded Bulldogs with a measure of revenge Tuesday, tossing a complete-game one-hitter to eliminate No. 4 Hernando 5-2 in the district play-in game.

Zephyrhills plays top-seeded Pasco tonight at 7 at Hernando High in the semifinals. No. 2 Central meets No. 3 Lecanto at 4 in the other semifinal.

Wardell (4-4) made only one mistake, a hanging curveball that Dee Brown hatcheted over the leftfield fence for a two-run home run in the first inning.

Otherwise, the senior struck out 10 and retired 21 of the last 22 batters he faced. "We got hat-tricked by them, they beat us three times in the regular season," Wardell said. "But now we pulled it off, embarrassed them at their house. That was good."

Hernando starter Brad Wyatt deserved a better fate after allowing three earned runs on three hits in five innings. The Leopards' season-long defensive ineptitude produced four errors, two unearned runs and keyed the Bulldogs' decisive four-run third.

Wardell's bases-loaded single scored Zephyrhills' first run before a wild pitch tied the game. The Bulldogs added two runs when Russell Hartley scored on a fielder's choice and first baseman Stephen Blanton couldn't catch a throw from shortstop Drew Innes, allowing Wardell to score from second.

In ending Hernando's season at 13-15, Bulldogs coach Bruce Cimorelli got a late-season bonus from a team that started six underclassmen.

"Coming in, we just wanted to go out there loosey-goosey," he said. "Go out there and have fun."- BRANT JAMES

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