– DeSoto’s Garrett Anderson scattered four hits in a complete-game effort and the Bulldogs got just enough offense to defeat Avon Park by a score of 5-2 in Tuesday’s semifinals of the Class 4A-District 10 tournament.
The win moves DeSoto, the No. 1 seed, into tonight’s district championship game against Lake Placid, while the Red Devils end the season with a record of 17-9.
“We beat ourselves with mistakes on the bases and in the field,” said Avon Park baseball coach Whit Cornell. “We’re an aggressive team and things didn’t work out.
“I’m proud of these young men and especially the seniors who have been here for four years and helped to build this program.”
DeSoto took advantage of a pair of Avon Park errors to score three runs in the bottom of the first inning off Red Devil left-hander Gio Gomez.
Avon Park tallied a run in the top of the third inning on a ground out by Lou Martinez to trim its deficit to 3-1.
DeSoto scored in the bottom of the fourth inning as Austin Lambert lined a one-out double to left-center field, Cory Omar singled to right field and Eli Adams smacked a run-scoring single to right field to plate Lambert for a 4-1 lead.
The Red Devils continued to battle against Bulldog ace right-hander Garrett Anderson and pushed a run across in the top of the fifth inning.
Stevie Flowers led off the inning by getting hit by a pitch, stole second base, moved to third base on a passed ball and raced home when Anderson uncorked a wild pitch to make it 4-2.
DeSoto answered with a run in the bottom of the sixth inning as Lambert was hit by a pitch, Omar singled and Adams walked to load the bases.
Lambert came home on an error to give the Bulldogs a 5-2 lead heading into the last inning.
Avon Park refused to go quietly as Flowers was hit by a pitch with two outs, Cody Pearlman walked and Tyrone Perry was walked intentionally to load the bases and put the tying run on first base.
DeSoto wasn’t going to let the powerful Perry tie the game up with one swing of his bat. Anderson bore down and got a ground ball to third base to end the threat and the game.
Avon Park has a bright future with a solid nucleus of players coming back next year.
“We’re going to miss our seniors, but we have a bunch of guys returning that gained valuable experience this year,” Cornell. “We have a good junior varsity program and some of our role players will have to step up next year.
“We’re going to continue to work hard, we’ve got summer ball coming up and we’re going to continue to do the things that make Avon Park baseball a special program.”