The Blue Streaks, who suffered their first loss of the double-elimination tournament to Spring Hill American on Wednesday, bounced back with an 8-6 victory over West Seminole in an elimination game.
Sebring advanced to face Spring Hill American for the state championship.
The doubleheader and a talented Spring Hill squad proved to be too much as the Blue Streaks dropped a 10-0 decision.
“We came out looking like we have never been on the field before,” said Sebring AAA coach Kirby Whitehouse. “I don’t know if it was fatigue or the jitters knowing that Spring Hill beat us last night. Case McClelland pitched real well and we just needed to make an out for him.”
In Thursday’s first game against West Seminole, the Sebring All-Stars came out swinging and jumped on top in the second inning.
Fabian Ayala-Narvaez hit a looper to center field for a single, Nathan Andrews bunted for a single and both runners moved up on a wild pitch.
Jonathan Delgado lined a single to left field to score Ayala-Narvaez, and Andrews scampered home on a wild pitch. Jacob Jackson capped the uprising with a double to right field to plate Delgado for a 3-0 lead.
Sebring kept the pressure on in the bottom of the third inning as Josh Regino singled, Logan McGann singled and Reid Whitehouse lined a base hit to load the bases.
Ayala-Narvaez followed with a shot over the left-center field fence for a grand slam.
Andrews bunted for a single, took second on a wild pitch and McClelland ripped a run-scoring single to right field to plate Andrews for a commanding 8-0 lead.
West Seminole showed it had pride and rallied with a run in the fourth on a bases-loaded balk and again in the fifth inning as Cohen Boop walked with the bases loaded to force in Aubrey Evans.
Ethan Gibbons singled to drive in a run and another walk forced in a run to make it 8-4.
West Seminole had one last at-bat and Spencer Hawes walked, Ethan Asmus doubled and Caleb Strott smacked a run-scoring double. Boop had an RBI single, but that was all the runs West Seminole could score as Sebring held on for the win.
“We started out real well,” said coach Whitehouse. “We came out hitting, came out playing good defense, and we came swinging the bats and scoring a lot of runs.”
Delgado earned the win for Sebring with five innings of solid pitching.
“Jonathan was lights out, he’s my bulldog,” said coach Whitehouse. “He kept them off-balance. We had a big lead and we took our foot off of the gas and the snake bit us. Put us in a situation where we had to tense up. We played for Coach Jose Regino, he is listening to our games on Jock Jive and rooting us on. He broke his nose and his eye on Wednesday night and it’s swelled shut. We miss him and won for him.”
The win set up a rematch with Spring Hill American for the state title.
After a scoreless first inning, Spring Hill went to work in the second inning as Izzy LaRoche walked, Owen Andress doubled to right-center field and Quintin Hotop singled to score LaRoche.
Hotop stole second and Javon Newhall singled plating Andress and Hotop scored on a wild pitch.,
Sal LaDuca smacked a single, Gavin McMurdo roped an RBI double and LaDuca raced home on an error.
Riley Cullum walked and Josh Regoion came on in relief of Case McClelland. Cullum took second on a wild pitch and scored on a base hit by Talon Bergantino for a 7-0 lead.
Top of the third, Owen Lowe popped out to first. Trey Rowe went down swinging and Dane Kelsey hit a ground ball to the pitcher for the final out.
The Sebring offense couldn’t find its stroke and Spring Hill went back to work in the fourth inning.
Newhall singled, advanced to second base on a wild pitch and scored when an Aiden Leskauskas ground ball was thrown away for an error.
Bergantino had a run-scoring hit and LaRoche singled to score the final run as the game was called because of the 10-run mercy rule.
“With two strikes on them they just start spraying it around,” said coach Whithouse. “We just couldn’t stop the bleeding. It just didn’t go our way this year but these kids are really talented and it won’t be long before we win a state title.”