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Seniors relying on aces heading into sectionals

The Dade City senior baseball all-stars begin play Saturday in the District III tournament.


© St. Petersburg Times, published July 21, 2000

DADE CITY -- Dade City's senior baseball all-star team has more than one ace to draw from. In fact, coach Danny Filley has six pitchers he will not hesitate to use in any situation.

Such depth came in handy once Dade City fell into the loser's bracket of the District 4 tournament. Knowing the team was not reliant on one or two pitchers, Dade City battled back to win the district crown.

Dade City (6-1) begins play in the Section III tournament Saturday against the Tampa Yellow Jackets at East Point in Seffner.

Matt Smith or Matt Prowant, each of whom won two games in the district series at Lake Wales, is favored to start, but as of Thursday, Filley was not tipping his hand. While extoling the virtues of those pitchers, the coach had not yet ruled out Sonny Glover, Cory Filley, Chris Nyman or Jhavard Bailey.

"You don't have to rely on one person," Filley said. "It gives you a lot of relief. If somebody is not on you can count on somebody else."

Filley has not hesitated to bring in a reliever even if a pitcher is "on." Although Smith had not allowed a run in a 7-0 win over Pinecrest, he was taken out and shared a four-hitter with Glover, Filley and Nyman.

That gave Pinecrest its first loss of the series and forced a rematch between those two clubs. More important, it gave four pitchers the experience of playing in a pressure-packed ballgame and left them available to take the mound in another game if needed.

As it turned out, Prowant went the distance in the final district game, helping Dade City clinch the title with a four-hitter in a 9-0 win.

Prowant got plenty of support from the Dade City infield.

Two Pinecrest scoring threats were erased on grounders to second base that started three 4-6-3 double plays. Shortstop Smith and first baseman Glover also had a hand in those plays.

Two other fine defensive plays came in the final two games.

In each win over Pinecrest, rightfielder Filley relayed a ball to first baseman Glover who tossed it to catcher Kevin Larrubia, who tagged a runner out at home.

Offensively, Dade City outscored its district foes 37-14.

Coach Filley said his players are scoring and putting the ball in play, in large part, because they are simply trying to put the bat on the ball. "We're just driving the ball," the coach said. "I'm not worried about the home run. I'm worried about getting on base."

While Dade City has yet to hit a home run, the team has its share of solid hitters in Prowant (a .687 average), Filley (.583), Glover (.571) and Larrubia (.364).

Glover leads the team in RBI with nine and is followed by Filley and Smith with five apiece.

Familiarity is a key to Dade City's strong postseason run. Most of the senior all-stars played on last year's Dade City team that won a district championship and went 2-2 in the sectionals. The two sectional losses came after Dade City went 5-0 in district play and won its first two sectional games for a 7-0 playoff start.

This time, coach Filley feels his team has the talent and desire to win the sectionals.

"They want to win it," Filley said. "The way they're playing, the way they practice. They want to win."

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