Sebring wins Ozone state title
JIM TAYLORSEBRING - – The Sebring All-Stars (ages 11-12) won the Dixie Ozone state championship with a 2-1 win over West Volusia on Thursday night at Max Long Recreational Complex.
Published: July 14, 2012
Published: July 14, 2012
Sebring advances to the Ozone World Series in Cleveland, Miss., on July 26.
The Sebring All-Stars stormed through the 12-team double-elimination tournament with the greatest of ease, the victory in the championship game didn't come easily.
Both teams brought out their pitching aces and they did not disappoint as both threw complete games in this epic battle.
"It was scratch, claw, fight and find a way," said Sebring Coach Cesar Martinez. "With Hunter Martinez leading off with what was really a routine can of corn, but it worked out for us."
West Volusia started Bryle Jones, who didn't pitch much until Thursday night due to an injury earlier in the tournament. Jones held the mighty Sebring offense to just four singles and held them hitless over the first three innings.
Sebring started Everett Hurstt, who had compiled 15 strikeouts in the six innings he pitched over the previous two days.
Hurst would also hold West Volusia to just four hits in the game, all singles, while adding 12 more strikeouts to his tournament total. This included striking out the last four batters of the game, three of which were the top of the lineup for West Volusia.
Sebring posted the first run of the game in the first inning.
Hunter Martinez led off the game with a towering fly ball to centerfield. This ball was misplayed and Martinez reached second base on the error.
Trent Lewis pushed Martinez to third with a ground ball to the first baseman. Hurst then helped his own cause by bringing home Martinez on a ground ball to second base to take a 1-0 lead.
West Volusia bounced back in the second inning as Hurst struggled through the inning giving up two singles and a walk to load the bases with one out. Another walk brought in the tying run before Hurst regained form to get out of the inning with the score tied at 1.
Both pitchers cruised until the bottom of the fourth.
With two outs and nobody on base, Lewis was hit by a pitch. Singles by Hurst to centerfield and Dayvon Terry to left field loaded the bases.
At this point, West Volusia had a defensive breakdown as Justin Bickman hit a routine groundball to the shortstop. The shortstop went to make the throw to second base, but the second baseman was not covering the bag.
All runners were safe as no throw was made and Lewis scored on the play to give Sebring a 2-1 lead.
West Volusia attempted their own two out rally in the top of the fifth as they hit back-to-back singles to put runners on first and second. Hurst promptly struck out the next batter to leave the runners stranded on base.
With the score still 2-1 in Sebring's favor going into the top of the sixth, Hurst struck out the side as Sebring won the Ozone state championship and Hurst won the game's Most Valuable Player award.
"Tonight, the best offense was the pitching," said Coach Martinez. "Bottom line, it was a whale of a ballgame. I have been doing this a long time and this is wrapping me up and I could not be prouder of this bunch of boys."
With the win, Sebring will be traveling to Mississippi to participate in the Dixie Ozone World Series. They are scheduled to play Louisiana at 6 p.m. on July 28.