By SAM STANTURF
© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 5, 2001
GULFPORT -- There is nothing like a pitcher who finishes what he starts.
Not only did Apopka Florida pitcher Stuart Tapley throw a two-hit shutout Saturday night, but he homered twice, once to lead off the game and once to finish it, in leading his team to a 10-0 spread victory over North Carolina in the second round of the Little League South Region tournament.
"When you have a player who can hit the ball over 200 feet and get it over the fence, that's a weapon," Florida coach Bob Brewer said. "We just happen to have six or eight of those guys and that's pretty intimidating."
Brewer's team of 12-year-olds remained undefeated thanks to an offensive surge of five home runs. Tapley's first homer was off a 3-and-2 pitch over the leftfield fence. Tyler Scanlon followed with a shot in the second.
After North Carolina held Florida scoreless in the third, Ryan Markell led off the fourth with his team's third homer to push the lead to 3-0. Andrew Cobb followed Markell with a bunt single and Zach Zwieg homered to center for a 5-0 lead.
"Throughout the season we hit enough (homers) to know when we got to the tournament we were going to hit some," Brewer said.
Florida scored four more in the fourth for a 9-0 lead. With the 10-run spread rule hanging over North Carolina's hope of extending the game, Tapley ended the suspense. "We're in the driver's seat now," Brewer said of his team's tournament chances, "but last year we were in the same situation and the wheels just fell off. We have to stay focused."
"When the top of our order steps up and we can get the pitching we have," Tapley said, "we're hard to beat."
Florida 's next game is Monday.
TENNESSEE 9, OKLAHOMA 2: Tennessee's Taylor Hill drove in four and pitched five innings of shutout relief. Tennessee scored three in the fourth and five in the fifth.
VIRGINIA 3, SOUTH CAROLINA 1: Pitcher Arman Moniri threw a complete game allowing one run on five hits while striking out seven. South Carolina pitcher James Williams took the loss, allowing three hits while striking out 10.
TEXAS 4, ARKANSAS 0: Pitchers Matt Sandell and David Alleman combined on a four-hit shutout. Alleman also was an offensive force by going 3-for-3, including two homers and three RBI.