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Eustis Defeats Leesburg in Dramatic Championship Game

Eustis Panthers 2

Leesburg Yellow Jackets 1

The Florida League High School Invitational came to an end with one of the most exciting games of the entire three week tournament. Thanks to herculean efforts from starting pitchers Cody Carroll (EHS) and Jason Baita (LHS), seven innings was not enough time to crown a champion. The extra frame brought big hits, drama and a clutch performance that helped Eustis defeat Leesburg by a score of 2-1.

Offense was hard to come by for the entire game for both teams. Eustis threatened first in the top of the second inning when Kyle Wiseman roped a double to the gap with two outs to put a man in scoring position. Aaron Simple would single to right field, but a great throw from Wade Pettis gunned Wiseman down at the plate. In the bottom half, Leesburg got a walk and a single to start things off, but Carroll would induce a strikeout, flyout, and strikeout to escape any damage. An error and a base hit by Michael Koenig put two men on again for Eustis in the third inning, but Baita earned a strikeout against Matthew Lusignan to end the threat.

In the fourth inning, Eustis once again put two men on thanks to hits from Wiseman and Simple. Baita was able to stop things before they started with another strikeout. Leesburg would also threaten in the fourth when Junior Long and Luis Montalvo were both hit by pitches. A groundball to short would end the Leesburg rally though. In the bottom of the fifth, the Jackets’ bats came alive with singles from Jaden Langley and Pettis to put two men on with just one out. Knowing that runs would be scarce in the game, Carroll needed a big play to escape the jam, and he got it when Tucker Smith grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to close out the frame.

Both teams went three up, three down in the sixth inning. Entering the seventh inning, Simple attempted to get his team on the board by starting things off with a double. However, Baita was able to force three straight flyball outs to send the game to the final regulation half. With one out, Brendan Perkins reached first on an errant throw from the second baseman. Brian Hepburn would come on to run for Perkins, and a groundball from Josh Johnson would move the runner to second base. Perkins would then advance to third on a wild pitch, putting the winning run just 90 feet from home. On the next pitch, Jaden Langley would send a soft liner to short that took a tricky hop. Koenig was able to barehand the spinning ball and deliver a strong throw to first base, beating Langley by a step and sending the game to extra innings.

After making the big defensive play, Koenig would then start a rally for his team by singling to the outfield. Lusignan would step up next and power a ball to left field that hit the wall, just a foot short of a homerun. The double would suffice as it scored Koenig to give Eustis a 1-0 lead. Kerry Carpenter would single in the next at bat, putting men on the corners with no outs. After a huge double play put two outs on the board and kept Lusignan at third, Wiseman was able to send a grounder through the middle for an RBI single to make it 2-0. A pop out would end the inning, and leave the Jackets with work to do.

Things started well enough for Leesburg when Pettis walked to lead off. Tucker Smith would then send a soft chopper to third base that was mishandled, putting two runners on for Leesburg. In a bold coaching move from David Lee, Jason Baita was then intentionally walked to load the bases with no outs. In the next at bat, Vathroder would swing at the first pitch he saw, sending a long fly ball to left field that would score Pettis. Junior Long would follow with a groundball to third base; rather than step on third base for the force out, Wiseman attempted to turn a double play, but the Panthers were only able to get the out at second. With two outs and the game on the line, Eustis brought in their ace, Brady Singer, to end the game. After a quick warm up of 90+ mph fastballs, Singer was able to force a weak groundout to first base off the bat of Montalvo that would end the game and make Eustis the FHSI Challenge Champions.

Cody Carroll earned the win for Eustis with a truly impressive pitching line: 7.2 innings pitched, one run, three hits, and eight strikeouts. Baita was equally impressive for Leesburg with seven innings, seven hits, zero runs and four strikeouts of his own. Koenig, Wiseman and Simple each had three hits to lead the Eustis offense.

Grandview Wolves 7

Clewiston Tigers 2

Grandview needed just one inning of offense to build a comfortable lead and earn a victory over Clewiston on Friday.

After both teams went scoreless in the first inning, Grandview took advantage of a handful of miscues by the Clewiston defense to hang a touchdown on the scoreboard in the second inning. Ben Marshall started things off with a double, and ended up at third base thanks to an error. A pair of walks to Tyler Odorisio and Travis Parker would load the bases with no outs. A fielder’s choice would plate the first run, and a hit by batsmen would reload the bases. A wild pitch would score Odorisio, and a sac fly would bring in Parker. Eric Mingus was then hit by a pitch to load the bases once more, and a Tyler Smith walk would add one more to the board for Grandview. Marshall would then step up to the plate for the second time in the inning, and reach on an error that scored Carter Boswell. Odorisio would then mirror Marshal’s effort, also reaching on an error and driving in Eric Mingus. When the inning was over, the Wolves had scored seven runs on one hit, three errors, three walks and two HBPs.

Clewiston would put together a small rally of their own in the next half inning. Consecutive singles by Samy Rivera, Steven McKown, and Dakota Jackman scored the Tigers’ first run. Jude Moss would then send a sac fly to centerfield that would score McKown to make it 7-2. Grandview starter Caleb Miley would escape further damage, and go on to shut down the Clewiston offense for two more innings. After the fifth, he would pass the buck to Morgan Smith, who closed the door for the final six outs. Riley Spriggs was 1-2 with a run and an RBI for Grandview, who went 2-2 in four days. Clewiston finished the Challenge with an 0-4 mark.

Westfield Bulldogs 12

Lincoln Park Academy Greyhounds 1

The Westfield Bulldogs jumped on Lincoln Park early, scoring six in the first inning en route to a lopsided 12-1 victory in the battle of the canines.

Nick Render started things off with a walk, and moved to second on a wild pitch. After Seth Hockett singled and Mason Scoville was hit by a pitch, the bases were loaded with no outs. A Kenny Barry single would score two, followed by a fielder’s choice/error that would bring Scoville around. Cory Ciocco would then send a base hit to right field to plate Barry, and Robert Hahne and Ciocco would both score on wild pitches, making it 6-0. LPA would get one run back in the bottom half when Derek Schwimmer would score on a wild pitch, but unfortunately for the Greyhounds, that would be the extent of their offense for the day.

Westfield would score another in the second, three in the fifth (RBIs by Taylor King and Tyler Murray), and two in the seventh (two-run single by Matthew McPherson) to make the score 12-1. Brady Ingham was solid on the mound for Westfield, allowing one run on four hits with one walk and six strikeouts. He was relieved by Gregory Duncan, who pitched two scoreless frames with two strikeouts.

Montverde Academy Eagles 8

South Fort Myers Wolfpack 1

Montverde took advantage of a huge first inning and held the lead for the remainder of the game, defeating South Fort Myers by a score of 8-1.

The Wolfpack actually struck first in the opening frame. Josh Ashby led off with a single, and was sacrificed to second by Alberto Oliveras. A Keith Smith single would move him to third, and he would then come in to score on a groundout from Daniel Hourigan. In the bottom half, Leo Rodriguez started a two out rally with a single. Gabriel Garcia and Cash Case were each struck by pitches to load the bases. A Manuel Lopez single would score Rodriguez and Garcia to make it 2-0. After Cash Case scored on a wild pitch, Julian Quintana would score Lopez with a base hit. Quintana would then steal second and come across the plate on an error during Joey Passino’s at bat, making the score 6-1.

The Eagles would add another run in the second when Gabriel Coburn scored on a passed ball, and two more runs in the fifth inning when Gabriel Coburn’s single scored Lopez and Quintana, making the score 8-1. The efforts of Tino Kouronis (4 innings pitched), Edgar Rosas (1.2 innings pitched) and Jack Holmgren (1.1 innings pitched) kept that score final, with six shutout innings after the first. Coburn was 2-3 at the plate with a walk, a run and two RBI to lead the Eagles’ offense. Montverde finished 3-1 in the Challenge, while South Fort Myers ended the week 1-3.

First Academy Royals 5

Forest Wildcats 2

The pitching combination of Connor Middleton and Collin Dorroh proved to be too much for the Forest Wildcats, as the First Academy Royals won on Thursday by a score of 5-2.

The scoring started in the top of the second when TFA put two runs across the board. Back to back walks to Graham Dvorak and Garrett Galloway put two men on with no outs. After a sac bunt from Trevor Hulbert moved them both into scoring position, a Joseph Charles sac fly scored Dvorak and a Galloway would score on an error. The third, fourth and fifth innings were uneventful thanks to efforts from Middleton and Forest pitchers Jacob Landry and Tommy Scott.

The Royals would get on the board again in the sixth inning when Charles sent a single to the outfield, scoring Dvorak again and making the score 3-0. After TFA put two more on the board in the seventh, they had a comfortable 5-0 lead. Forest would try to make it a ballgame however. Back to back walks to Hagen Samson and Phillip Felicien started the inning off for the Wildcats. David Stromwall would then punch a ball to the wall for a double, scoring Samson. After a pitching change, Riley Ferrer brought Felicien in with an RBI groundout. Collin Dorroh would dash the hopes of a comeback quickly, striking out the final two batters to earn the save. Kendrick Calilao was 3-4 for TFA with a run scored. Joseph Charles chipped in two hits and two RBI as well to help the Royals.


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