Florida out of World Series
Allen Moody | Highlands TodayBARTOW - Team Florida arrived at the Dixie Youth AAA (ages 9-10) World Series as champions and they left as champions. Not even a 1-2 record against the best teams in the country can take away what the youngsters from Sebring accomplished during the year.
Published: August 8, 2012
Published: August 8, 2012
The team entered Monday's game with Louisiana needing a win to stay alive, but came up on the short end of the scoreboard, as the Bayou boys started fast and went on to post a 13-5 victory.
"We're not going home hanging our heads," said Team Florida coach Anthony Gaines. "No one likes to lose, but we'll wake up in the morning and have this shook off and be real proud of each other. Tonight it kind of hurts, but tomorrow these boys will realize what they've done."
The boys from Sebring got off to a fast start, as LJ Daniels led off the top of the first with a double and Drew Morris followed with his second home run of the World Series to give Team Florida a quick 2-0 lead.
With two outs, Drew Smith singled and Junior Algate followed with a double down the line. Blayne Huter singled to score Smith before Louisiana could get the final out.
Louisiana stormed back with five first-inning runs, and Team Florida loaded the bases in the top of the second on a single by Tyson Bentley and walks to Daniels and Morris, but couldn't get a run across.
An unearned run in the bottom of the second gave Louisiana a 6-3 lead and things came unhinged for Team Florida in the bottom of the third, as seven runs scored to make it 13-3.
"We just didn't take care of the fundamentals," Gaines said. "It comes down to making defensive plays and the ball just didn't bounce our way."
Florida needed to score in the top of the fourth to prevent the game from being called due to the 10-run mercy rule and they managed to do so just before the third out of the inning. Desmond Gaines led off with a walk and Morris delivered a single.
With two outs, Morris took off from first and drew the throw from the catcher, as pinch-runner Kyle Mercer raced home, touching home plate just before Morris was tagged out.
Huter shut the door on Louisiana in the bottom of the fourth, as one run would have ended the game.
Team Florida scored another run in the fifth, as Ty Kilgo belted a ball over the fence to make the score 13-5, which is where it ended.
"They came and battled and never gave up," Coach Gaines said. "The highest an AAA team has ever finished is third and not many teams have made it this far at 10-and-under, so they have nothing to be ashamed of."
Coach Gaines said the pitching the players saw was a real eye-opener, as they throw harder than his players are used to seeing and many of the guys were able to throw off-speed pitches for a strike.
"You don't see this kind of pitching," he said. "They have great velocity and hit their spots."
The team had a solid following for all three games in Bartow and Coach Gaines said it was good to see.
"You need a lot of people to get this all done," he said. "I appreciate all of the parents and I appreciate the community coming up here. I need to thank the employers for letting everybody off early so we could play.
"It just didn't seem to work out. We'll be back. These guys love baseball and made it to the World Series and there's no shame in that."
Coach Gaines said the players can hold their heads high over what they accomplished during the year.
"I'm real proud of all 12 of them," he said. "These kids are awesome. I wouldn't trade one of them for any kid on any other team."
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