By KEN SMITH
© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 1, 2001
Buoyed by Ken Wadsworth's dominating performance on the mound, Palma Ceia squeaked out a 2-1 victory over Defuniak Springs on Tuesday to claim the state junior baseball title.
Wadsworth allowed only two hits and struck out 11, keeping Defuniak Springs at bay long enough to allow Palma Ceia to rally from a 1-0 deficit.
Palma Ceia left 11 runners on base, but managed to take advantage of Defuniak Springs errors to score two runs in an unorthodox fashion.
Trailing 1-0 with one out in the fifth inning, Palma Ceia catcher Brant McKown reached first on an error by third baseman Dewey Roberts. Wadsworth followed with a double that moved McKown to third. Josh Bodner then hit a grounder to pitcher Kirk Bengson, who threw home in an attempt to throw out McKown. McKown appeared to be out, but was safe on the play after his hard slide into catcher Will Currid knocked the ball loose. Palma Ceia added the winning run in the sixth inning.
Bobby Munoz reacher first on a fielder's choice and advanced to second on a past ball. Ben Horton then hit a slow grounder to third, which Roberts scooped up, but his throw to first was wide, getting past the first baseman and allowing Munoz to score.
Defuniak Springs' only success off Wadsworth came in the fourth inning.
Jason Bryan drew a walk and advanced to third when Wadsworth's pickoff attempt got past first baseman Ben Matthews. Xavier Jackson singled Bryan home.
Wadsworth shut down Defuniak Springs the rest of way, retiring 10 of the last 11 batters he faced.
"He (Wadsworth) was very focused. He really went after them," Palma Ceia coach Bill Wadsworth said of his son's pitching.
As for leaving 11 runners on base, Wadsworth said, "It was very frustrating, we just couldn't follow through. But give credit to Defuniak Springs, they are a great team."
Palma Ceia advances to the Southern Regional tournament in Cartersville, Ga., where it will play an opening-round game against the Texas state champion Saturday. SOFTBALL: In 9-10 girls softball, Eau Galle defeated Plant City 10-6 to win the state crown.
Plant City entered the contest with one loss and needed to win to advance to the championship game. Plant City trailed the entire game against undefeated Eau Galle.