MULBERRY — Sebring entered the final round of Wednesday’s Dixie T-Ball state tournament undefeated. But after dispatching Wesley Chapel once, the Pasco County squad edged Sebring in a pair of heartbreakers to clinch the title at Mulberry Park.
Wesley Chapel needed to beat Sebring twice to win the tournament, and won the early game 12-10 before winning a 16-15 nail-biter in the nightcap.
“That’s baseball. That’s the way it goes sometimes,” said Sebring coach Brian Simmons. “But we played hard and overcame a lot of rain outs and tough opponents to get here. We should be proud.”
Sebring had a four-run lead, but let it slip away down the stretch. With the way each offensive was slugging, though, no lead was safe.
“I guess the baseball gods just weren’t smiling on us then,” Simmons joked.
Sebring toppled a wealth of talent from around South Florida, beating Bartow, Bushnell, and Mulberry.
Despite being on the losing side, Tanner Simmons was awarded the game MVP.
“I couldn’t be more proud of him,” Simmons said. “But this is a team effort. We’re 12 guys working together as one.”
Simmons said he’ll be losing a solid chunk of his team, but added that he’s looking forward to next season.
“We’re looking forward to fall ball,” he said. “We lost a good group, but it’s amazing to see these kids grow up. And it’s a special to treat to see athletes this young playing baseball this well.”
One of the plays Simmons remembers most was Chase Vaughn’s laser throw from the outfield.
“He was out there deep near left-center,” Simmons said. “And he made an amazing play, throwing a runner out at first.”
Simmons said he was also appreciative of the parent.
“Being a parent and a coach, I have a great deal of respect for all the hard work they put in over the weekend,” he said. “They hung in there and got a lot of compliments from other coaches and umpires for being so gracious.”