SEBRING — Pool Paradise and the Firemen battled it out Friday night in Dixie Ozone baseball (ages 10-12) at the Max Long Sports Complex. Pool Paradise drilled four home runs to defeat the Firemen, 11-7, bringing its record to a sterling 10-0.
“It was hard to watch,” said Pool Paradise coach Anthony Gaines. “They had the momentum for a little bit. We jumped on them pretty good but they just wouldn’t go away.”
Pool Paradise got the fireworks started early. Kameion Taylor opened the game with a blast, sending a pitch over the left field fence to put his team up 1-0. Drew Morris and Junior Algate followed with singles, and Nick Piccione belted a three-run homer to make it 4-0.
Undaunted, the Firemen rallied in the bottom of the first. A slew of Pool Paradise errors Drew Smith scamper from first to second, and a blast from Keyshawn Hicks put runners on the corners. Wild pitches let both runners score to cut Pool Paradises lead to 4-2.
Another home run from Taylor made it 5-2, Pool Paradise, while Desmond Gaines followed with a double. Passed balls let Gaines swipe third and home, and Algate smashed the game’s fourth home run to give Pool Paradise a five-run lead.
The Firemen clawed their way back in the second, thanks to two-run RBI from Dustin Drake. Hicks took the mound in the top of the third and helped cool Pool Paradise’s bats.
“Keyshawn came in and shut us down for two innings,” Gaines said. “He’s done that all year against us. We just had to keep battling.”
Pool Paradise wouldn’t stay down for long, though, and the team loaded the bases in the fifth. Gaines plated Zack Kresser to keep the bases loaded, and the Firemen walked a runner before Nick Piccione singled to give Pool Paradise an 11-6 lead.
The Firemen tried one final rally in the fifth, narrowing the deficit to four runs thanks to a sacrifice fly from Ty Martz, but the comeback was squashed thanks to great defense from Pool Paradise.
The Firemen’s offense was stagnant in over the final innings, and Pool Paradise held on for the 11-7 victory.
With the Dixie Ozone City Tournament starting on Tuesday, Gaines said his team is anxious to get out on the field.
“We are ready. We just need to stay hot,” Gaines said.
The Ozone City Tournament will played at the Max Long Sports Complex. Starting times and match ups have yet to be determined, but every team from the league qualifies for the tournament. Each squad’s regular season record will determine its seeding.