By PETE YOUNG
© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 11, 2001
In need of pitching depth and resolve after dropping the opening game of the double-elimination Southern Regional, the Palm Harbor seniors got full doses of both -- and are headed to the World Series.
Palm Harbor beat Waynesville, N.C., for the second consecutive day Friday, 2-1, to capture the Southern Regional title in Toccoa, Ga. Palm Harbor won four in a row, including 8-2 Thursday over Waynesville, after losing 3-0 to Waynesville in its opening game.
"These kids have the attitude that the tournament's not over until they say it's over," said coach John Petika, whose team dropped into the loser's bracket at the state tournament as well but reeled off three consecutive wins. "It's a shame that we have to have adversity before we get serious, but everyone seems to respond better when we do."
On the small Southern Regional field, pitching was the key. Palm Harbor allowed just eight runs in five games. In its past 10 games, including the state tournament, Palm Harbor has allowed 10 runs.
The hero Friday was Dunedin High standout Ryan Harvey. Harvey stroked a two-run home run in the third inning and went the distance on the mound, striking out 14 and allowing three hits and two walks.
In the seventh, Harvey yielded a home run to make it 2-1. Then two runners reached base with one out. However, Harvey got a strikeout and groundout to end it.
"I went out to talk to him, and he said he was all right and wanted to finish it," Petika said.
Palm Harbor faces Eastland, Mich., at 4:30 p.m. Monday at the World Series in Kissimmee. If it wins, it plays at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. If it loses, it plays at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. There are five U.S. and four international teams playing in a double-elimination tournament. BIG LEAGUE: Despite tying for the best record in its pool and having its lone loss come in extra innings, Dunedin was eliminated from the World Series in Easley, S.C., late Thursday by a tiebreaker.
Three teams were tied at 3-1 after Dunedin beat Williamsport, Pa., 8-4 and Westminster, Calif., beat South Carolina District 1 6-4.
Westminster allowed the fewest runs, and South Carolina advanced because it beat Dunedin 11-8. "It's too bad. We had the pitching ready to go, with Mike (White, who had pitched a no-hitter in the opening game) and Shawn (Williams)," Dunedin coach Dave Eggers said. "It would have been interesting."