SEBRING — The Sebring All-Stars flexed their muscles in powering past West Volusia by a score of 12-7 in the Dixie Boys State Tournament (age 14) on Tuesday night at Max Long Complex.
The win kept Sebring unbeaten in the double-elimination tournament and set up a rematch with once-beaten Spring Hill on Wednesday night for the state championship.
Results from the game were not available at press time. For the complete story and photos, be sure to read Friday’s Highlands Today sports section. For the latest results, check the Highlands Today Facebook page.
“We’re in the championship game,” said Sebring coach Cesar Martinez. “We’re in a good spot and we won this game on perseverance. West Volusia is a good ball club. We kept scraping, fighting and at the end of the day the kids fought hard for the victory.”
West Volusia got on the board in the bottom of the first inning as Bryce Jones was hit by a pitch, advanced to second base on a ground out and scored on a double by Julian Robinson.
Brendan Mora singled to right field with Robinson moving to third and a wild pitch scored Robinson for a 2-0 lead.
Sebring wouldn’t allow West Volusia to have the lead for long. In the top of the second Sebring’s Josh Rivera doubled, Damian Lusby lined a single driving home Rivera. Danny Cardoso came in to run for Lusby who was pitching. Dalton Whitman hit a ground ball to shortstop and a wild throw allowed Cardoso and Whitman to advance on the bases.
Marshall Bond hit a single to plate Cardoso and Hunter Martinez reached base via catcher’s interference to load the bases.
Whitman raced home on a wild pitch, and West Volusia pitcher Bryce Jones uncorked another wild pitch to allow Bond to score. Justin Bickman walked and stole second. Gabe Gomez hit a ground ball to shortstop and was thrown out at first but Martinez scored for a 5-2 lead.
In the bottom of the second, West Volusia’s Xavier Rosado walked, stole second, advanced to third on a ground out and scored on a sacrifice fly to pull within 5-3.
West Volusia added a run in the third inning to make it 5-4.
Sebring’s offense went to work in the fourth inning as Martinez reached on an error, moved to third on consecutive wild pitches and scored on an RBI single by Bickman.
Bickman stole second, took third on a wild pitch and raced home on a ground out. Dayvon Terry hit a line drive to left field for a single, Rivera reached on an error and Lusby smacked a single to plate Terry for an 8-4 lead.
West Volusia had one player that came to play in the bottom of the fourth. Sinopoli hit a liner that was misplayed by the right fielder for a double and a pair of wild pitches allowed Sinopoli to score to make it 8-5.
Sebring took advantage of wildness by the West Volusia pitcher by taking three walks to load the bases. Bickman, who has been a ball magnet this tournament, was hit by a pitch to force in a run for a 9-5 lead.
West Volusia rallied in the sixth inning as Brian Berries singled and Rosado walked. Sebring’s Lusby reached his pitch count and was replaced by Terry.
An RBI single made it 9-6, but Terry struck out the next two batters to end the threat.
Sebring tacked on some important insurance runs in the top of the seventh inning as Bickman and Terry belted home runs over the right-field fence and Lusby had an RBI double for a 12-6 lead.
West Volusia had one last chance to come back and scored one run, but it wasn’t enough as Terry retired the last batter to seal the hard-fought victory.
“We’re playing for the state championship and that’s where we wanted to be,” said coach Martinez. “We’ll play the first game and see what happens. We’re in a pretty good position because Spring Hill has to beat us twice.”