By PETE YOUNG
© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 1, 2001
Dunedin put itself in prime position to advance to the big league World Series with a 9-3 win Tuesday over Virginia Beach, Va., in the Southern Regional in Biloxi, Miss.
The Florida state champions in the 17 to 18 age division will play for the Southern Regional title at 6 p.m. Thursday against either Virginia Beach, Biloxi or Victoria, Texas. Dunedin defeated Victoria 5-3 in Monday's opening game.
Josh Whittle, a 2000 Dunedin graduate who pitched for Pasco-Hernando Community College this spring, gave Dunedin its second consecutive commanding mound performance Tuesday, going the distance with seven strikeouts and four walks. Mike White pitched a complete game Monday.
"It was another really hot day," said Dunedin coach Dave Eggers, whose team played at 1 p.m. Monday and 10 a.m. Tuesday. "(Whittle) was just like (White) the day before. We've had two really good games from our pitchers."
Two-time All-Pinellas shortstop Kenny Holmberg paced the Dunedin attack, going 2-for-3 with a home run, a double, 3 runs scored and 3 RBI.
Billy Phillips (River Ridge/Pasco-Hernando Community College) was 2-for-3 with 2 walks, 2 runs and 2 RBI, and Greg Crawford, Ryan Graham and White had run-scoring hits.
Biloxi and Victoria played late Tuesday, with the winner facing Virginia Beach today. The winner of that game will need to beat Dunedin twice for the title.
The World Series begins Saturday in Easley, S.C.
SENIORS: Palm Harbor coach John Petika is looking forward to tonight's state tournament battle against Lake Wales for two reasons.
The first is that ace Cody Rainer will be on the mound. The second is that a victory will send his team to the four-team Southern Regionals in Toccoa, Ga.
On Tuesday, Palm Harbor, which advanced out of the loser's bracket, took a 4-1 victory over Lake Wales to force a rematch for the title tonight at 7.
Ryan Harvey pitched a complete game for the win, allowing just four hits and four walks while striking out 13.
"The defense was absolutely excellent," Petika said. "Every time they hit the ball we made the play. Ryan Harvey was dominant."
Palm Harbor staked Harvey to an early lead with two runs in the first inning.
Harvey started the rally after being hit by a pitch and advancing to second on an infield single by Marchello Menone. Clay Perkett sacrificed his teammates to second and third before John Petika, the coach's son, singled up the middle to plate Harvey and Menone.
After Lake Wales answered with a run in the top of the second inning, Palm Harbor finished off the scoring with two more runs in the fifth.
Perkett led off with a walk. Brian DeGonzague and Chris Heil followed with back-to-back RBI doubles to account for the final margin.
In tonight's final, Rainer will attempt to pitch his fifth consecutive shutout in all-star play.
"I feel real good," coach Petika said. "(Rainer) will pitch and we'll end up facing their No. 1 guy. After playing them twice, it's getting a little testy between the two teams so our guys really want to win this one."
The Southern Regionals begin Monday with the winner advancing to the World Series.
AAU: In the 14-and-under national tournament in Sarasota, the Florida Stars defeated the Sarasota Stampede 12-1 on Tuesday to win their fifth game without a defeat in the 68-team event.
Geno Civello of Seminole, who will be a freshman at Osceola this year, pitched the final three innings for the Stars, who are based in Haines City and draw players from all over Florida.
On Saturday, before the tournament, Civello placed third among 68 players in the home run contest.
ISN'T THIS THE SOUTHEAST? Seminole left-handed pitcher Paul Buhrow, a rising senior, will participate in the Team One Midwest Showcase on Aug. 10-12 at Notre Dame.