SEBRING - Facing elimnation from the Dixie Youth T-ball (ages 5 to 6) state tournament, Sebring responded with a resounding 24-7 win over Brooksville in five innings on Sunday night at Max Long Complex.
"I knew that we would be ready to play the second game," Sebring coach Toby Taylor said after his team's victory. "I'm very proud of them."
Sebring had fallen into the loser's bracket after Wildwood defeated them 18-7 in the afternoon game.
After Brooksville scored one run in the top of the first, Sebring wasted little time in getting on the board.
Paced by Chase Vaughn's lead-off double, the boys in blue pounded out six runs in the bottom half of the inning. Steven Santos brought home the first two runs with a single, giving Sebring its first lead since Saturday morning against Hardee. Carsen Crisafulli scored on a wild pitch and Nelson Morales brought in another run with a single to make it 4-1. Robert Duncan and Hunter Stone followed each other with back-to-back RBI singles to round out the inning.
Sebring had another potent inning in the second, adding eight more runs. Vaughn got things started again, belting an RBI double to make it 8-3. Jakob Taylor brought in another run with his single, and a handful of baserunners scored on numerous Brooksville throwing errors.
Kael Martz scored Taylor to make it 9-3, and Santos brought the score to 11-3 with a two-RBI single. Brody Hall and Beny Bikar each followed with a single, and Crisafulli brought three more in to close out the inning, brining Sebring's lead up to 11 runs.
But the real fireworks were yet to come.
After opening the bottom of the third inning with three straight singles, Stone scampered home on a wild pitch to make it 15-7. Camden Culverhouse knocked in an RBI, followed by Vaughn and Taylor, to make it 18-7, and the stage was Martz.
With runners on first and second, Martz smashed the ball into deep right field. His speed proved to be too much for the Brooksville defenders to handle, because by the time the ball caught back up to the infield, Martz was already making his way across home plate for an inside-the-park home run. His teammates were waiting to mob him when he got back to the dugout.
Surprisingly, Sebring's Cam'ron Diaz matched Martz's with an inside-the-park homer of his own in the fourth inning. Once again, Sebring had two runners on base, when Diaz blasted the ball over the outfielders' heads, giving him ample time to make it all the way around the bases and come strolling into home plate sans a slide.
And just like they did for Martz, Diaz's coaches and teammates were ready to greet him with highfives and hugs when he got back to the dugout.
"With so many games in a tournament like this, you're bound to have an off game," Taylor said. "But it happens. The best thing you can do is show your character and come back strong - and we did that."
Defensively, Sebring looked as sharp as they had all weekend. Along with shutting out Brooksville over the final two innings, the team even managed a double-play in the top of the fourth.
Leading 21-7 with one out already recorded, Brooksville's Slone Edwards hit a line drive to Sebring shortstop Bikar, who snagged the ball out of the air and ran down Edwards before he got back to second.
Coach Taylor credited some of his team's rejuvenation to its raucous cheering section. Made up of parents and other family members, Max Long started to resemble a Major League stadium midway through the game.
"Our parents, they give us so much support," Taylor said following the win. "It makes the kids feel really good. I couldn't ask for anything better than that from them."
With the win, Sebring advanced to play Spring Hill on Monday afternoon.
Results from the game were not available at press time.