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Dunedin suffers early demise

By JOHN SCHWARB, KEN SMITH, JOHN C. COTEY, PETE YOUNG, ALEX LYNCH, Times staff

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 2, 2001


DUNEDIN -- In so many ways, the 2001 Dunedin baseball team was a different unit than the year prior. These Falcons were more mature, more powerful -- not to mention more respected in the polls.

In the end, however, the current squad exited in the same manner as its 2000 predecessors, falling 7-3 to Jefferson in a disappointing Class 4A, Region 3 quarterfinal loss.

The Dragons, losers just a week ago to a sub-.500 Leto team in its district final, put pressure on senior pitcher Bryan Banks early and the Falcons never recovered. Jefferson scored three runs in the second inning, on a wild pitch and a two-run single, and two more in the third and fourth to build a 7-0 lead.

Of the 10 hits Jefferson (17-10) pounded out in the three innings, nine were singles.

"For the first time this year, (Banks) was up in the zone with both his fastball and his curveball," Dunedin coach Tom Hilbert said. "They didn't necessarily hit anything hard, but they put the ball in play."

Dunedin, ranked No. 1 in 4A and No. 6 by Baseball America coming into the night, was stifled early by South Florida signee Jason Weintraub. The senior struck out seven and gave up 10 hits, including eight in the final three innings.

Dunedin scored three runs in those closing innings, but left six runners on in the too-little, too-late rally. -- JOHN SCHWARB

5A-3: Seminole routs Gulf

SEMINOLE -- Seminole had no trouble living up to its role as the heavy favorite over Gulf, defeating the Buccaneers 11-1. Catcher Bob Wilson highlighted the Warhawks attack with a grand slam in the second inning. Donyelle Williams knocked in three runs in the third and Casey Kotchman tripled home two runs in the first as Seminole scored in each of the first four innings.

Seminole's T.J. Large limited Gulf to just one hit in four innings.

The Bucs' lone tally came in the second when Joey Aldridge scored on a wild pitch by Large.

The Warhawks' four-run second inning began when Large beat out a grounder to shortstop for an infield hit. Large advanced to second on a wild pitch by David Pirman. Williams struck out for the second out, but Pirman walked Jon Skorupski then issued an intentional walk to Kotchman to load the bases.

Joe Dan Fagan replaced Pirman on the mound. Wilson then drilled a 2-2 pitch over the leftfield fence. Seminole jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first when Kotchman tripled in the gap to knock in Williams and Skorupski. Kotchman scored on a groundout by Wilson, which turned out to be the first of his 5 RBI. Seminole travels to Charlotte (23-6), an 8-7 winner over Wharton, for Friday's regional semifinal. -- KEN SMITH

5A-3: Cougars advance

NEW PORT RICHEY -- This is how good Mike White was Tuesday night against Ridgewood -- he got his change-up over the plate.

"That usually never happens," the Countryside senior said.

But the worst thing that happened for the Rams was that White got his curve ball over ... and his fastball ... and just about everything he threw. Masterfully working the strike zone and seemingly bending the Ridgewood bats to his will, White pitched Countryside to a 5-1 win and into the regional semifinals.

Shortstop Kevin Richmond scored two runs for Countryside, which will meet Sarasota on Friday, and centerfielder Dan Paasch drove in two runs with a triple in a four-run fifth inning that broke a 1-1 tie.

That was all the Cougars (18-11) needed against Ridgewood (20-11), which flailed away at the White's stuff but could never string anything together. Its best chance came in the fourth inning when it put runners on second and third with no outs, but White got out of the jam allowing his only run.

He struck out 11 Rams, including four on curveballs in the dirt that catcher Geoff Buckles had to dig out and throw to first base.

"They were chasing my curve," White said. "That was on tonight." -- JOHN C. COTEY

4A-3: Northeast falls short

ST. PETERSBURG -- Hits were in abundance for Northeast on Tuesday.

Run-scoring hits were scarce commodities, however.

The Vikings stroked 10 hits but left 10 runners on base in a 4-2 loss to East Bay.

"We left a lot of runners on, and we made some errors, too," Northeast coach Roman Johnson said. "(Pitcher) Scott Moeller gave us a chance to win, but we just couldn't get it done."

East Bay (9-16) did the little things a little better. The Indians committed one error and allowed one non-intentional walk, while Northeast committed four errors and allowed three walks. Three of East Bay's four runs were unearned.

The Vikings fell behind 3-0 after allowing two unearned runs in the second inning due to a three-base throwing error.

In the first, fourth, fifth and seventh innings, Northeast couldn't produce with runners in scoring position. In the second, Tommy Grobmyer (3-for-3) knocked in Isaac Jones with a two-out single to make it 3-1, but then Grobmyer was picked off second.

Trailing 4-1 with one out in the seventh, Grobmyer, Jason Leonard and Phil Catalan hit consecutive singles, but a run-scoring groundout and a fly out ended the game. -- PETE YOUNG

4A-3: Clearwater crushes Leto

TAMPA -- Clearwater exploded for five runs in the first inning against Leto on Tuesday and ended the game early on the mercy rule with a 12-0 win.

Judd Loveland, Matt Monnier, Brandon Baker, Brett Clark and Matt Coticchio all had two hits and combined for eight runs and six RBI.

Left-hander Jason Costello (6-3) kept the Leto hitters off balance with a changeup, a slow curve and a fastball en route to a five-inning, one-hit shutout with six strikeouts.

Leto (11-16) pitched a hard thrower in Sergio Perez (4-4).

But in the first inning, Clearwater's (17-13) right-handed batters went to rightfield for four hits and capitalized on three walks and a hit batsmen for a 5-0 lead.

"A lot of times in games like this, it's the little things that really make the difference," Clearwater coach Steve McKee said. "We did a lot of the little things right."

Clearwater will play at Dixie Hollins, a 5-3 winner over Sebring, on Friday. -- ALEX LYNCH

4A-3: Dixie downs Sebring

Joe Castagner was 3-for-4 with a double, triple and two RBI as Dixie Hollins defeated Sebring 5-3 at Sebring in a regional quarterfinal.

The Rebels (16-10) trailed 2-0 entering the top of the third but rallied for four runs. Jesse Litch's two-run single was the key hit. Brandon Huskins (9-4) went seven innings and struck out seven. The Rebels will host Clearwater (17-13) in a semifinal Friday. -- TIMES STAFF

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