SEBRING — Sitting at 12-0 and one win away from the Dixie Ozone City Tournament championship, Sebring’s Pool Paradise wouldn’t be denied. The squad rolled Sebring Rotary in the championship game Friday night, winning 17-1 in just five innings at the Max Long Sports Complex.
“We’re really appreciative of our sponsors, especially Brad Kurtz,” Paradise coach Anthony Gaines said. “It was close early on, and the bats weren’t going. Rotary’s pitchers were mixing up their fastballs and curve balls, but we usually get big hits in critical situations and we did that tonight.”
A stellar hitting team, Paradise got the fireworks started early. The Boys in Black went up 2-0 in the bottom of the first thanks to a two-run blast from Brian Napier.
Rotary countered in the top of the second, when Tyson Bentley launched a solo home run to cut the deficit in half. But that was the lone run for Rotary, as Paradise clamped down on defense, allowing just a handful of hits over the final innings.
Paradise tacked on three more runs in the bottom half of the inning to go up 5-2. After a scoreless third and fourth, Paradise exploded for 12 runs in the fifth to trigger the mercy rule.
“The bats really started heating up,” Gaines said. “It’s really big that we have a lot of older kids — around seven 12 year olds — and we work on fundamentals. These kids have done everything have asked and I admire all of their and their parents’ hard work.”
Junior Algate started the final theatrics, blasting a three-run homer in his first at-bat to put Paradise up 8-1. After a handful of RBIs put Paradise up 13-1, Algate dug in with the bases loaded. After a short battle, he crushed a pitch deep into the parking lot beyond center field to cap a seven-RBI inning.