LAKE PLACID - The Sebring All-Stars rallied from a 5-1 deficit to beat Okeechobee 12-7 in the Dixie Youth AAA (9-10 years old) district tournament on Saturday at the Lake June Ball Fields.
Sebring tallied eight runs in the fourth inning and added three more in the fifth for the victory to stay undefeated in the double-elimination tournament.
Sebring starting pitcher Reid Whitehouse pitched out of bases-loaded jams in the first and third innings with minimum damage while Okeechobee starting pitcher Tucker Kesner gave up just one hit over the first three innings.
"These kids can light it up when they swing," said Sebring Coach Kirby Whitehouse. "But I think they are guessing and it might be the coaches fault. At this age you do not usually see a lot of off-speed stuff, but more teams are throwing off-speed and we kind of stuck with the fastball throughout the season. But this week we decided to show them some off-speed and now I think they are guessing instead of doing what we know what to do."
Whitehouse walked the first three batters of the game to load the bases with no outs in the top of the first inning. Pyke Dawson singled into right field to drive in one run, but the relay from second base to home plate tagged out the second runner that tried to score.
From there, Whitehouse was able to get the next two batters to ground out as Okeechobee held a 1-0 lead.
Whitehouse would find himself in a bases loaded situation again in the third inning with one out. Dawson drove in his second run of the game when he was hit by a pitch to give Okeechobee a 2-0 lead.
Sebring manufactured a run in the bottom of the third as Conor Delaney reached base on a one-out walk. Delaney stole second, reach third on a passed ball and scored on an error to cut Okeechobee's lead in half at 2-1.
Sebring switched pitchers to start the fourth inning. After giving up a bunt-single and throwing the runner out at second on an attempted stolen base and striking out the next batter, Sebring allowed the next six batters to reach base.
Three walks, two singles and an error resulted in three runs for Okeechobee, who now led 5-1 going into the bottom of the fourth.
Kesner started the fourth inning for Okeechobee, but after walking the first two batters, a pitching change was made. The new pitcher hit the first batter to load the bases which was followed by Landon Baker, Sam Lieske and Cole Vanderpool hitting consecutive singles.
Baker and Vanderpool drove in a run and Lieske brought in two as Sebring tied the game at 5.
Sebring added another run off a single by Nathan Andrews. They scored twice more to cap off the scoring on an error and four walks to hold an 8-5 lead after 4 innings.
"This is the second night in a row that our bats have not shown up until one inning," said Whitehouse. "It's like we wait to one inning to get it all done, I wish they would stop because it is driving me crazy."
Fabian Ayala-Narvaez led off the bottom of the fifth for Sebring with an infield hit and scored on a two-out single by Zach Doorlag. That was followed by singles by Cope Brewer and Ty Martz that brought home a run each as Sebring led 12-5 after five innings.
Okeechobee scored twice in the sixth inning as they fell on the short side of a 12-7 decision.
"We just could not throw strikes," said Okeechobee Head Coach Anthony Sherlock. "We were up 5-1 and when you cannot throw strikes in this league, you are going to go down. One inning was the difference in this game."
With the loss, Okeechobee faced Avon Park in an elimination game on Sunday.
Results were not available at press time.
The winner will play Sebring at 6 tonight.
Avon Park stayed alive on Saturday with a 12-6 win over Lake Placid.
Avon Park jumped out to a six-run lead in the first inning that was highlighted by a double by Dawson Bryant.
Trailing 12-2 lead going into the bottom of the fourth, Lake Placid fought back scoring three runs to escape having the game stopped by the 10-run rule.
"We have had issues with closing games out," said Avon Park Coach Jason Massey. "But this is the first time we have beaten Lake Placid in the last couple of years and I think this is going to be a big turnaround for us, they have a good ball club."
Though they shut down Avon Park over the final two innings, Lake Placid could only manage one more run as Avon Park won the game 12-6.
"They did not give up," said Lake Placid Coach Michael Warner. "We're down 10 runs in the fourth, they scored three to keep the game going, they showed a lot of heart and battled to the end. Our defense made a couple of errors today and at this level they are costly. We're a young team and should be in good shape for next season."
Massey said Avon Park is ready and wanted to play Okeechobee again after losing to them 10-7 in a game that did not end until midnight on Friday.
"We had ten runs scored against us and only two balls left the infield," Massey said. "We are absolutely looking to do a lot better in a rematch.