SEBRING - If revenge is a dish best served cold, then redemption is best served on a warm breezy day at Max Long Complex in Sebring. This was not just another game for Spring Hill, it was a game they have thought about since losing twice to Sebring in last year's Dixie Boys (ages 13-14) State Tournament.
In an 11-0 rout, Spring Hill sent Sebring into the loser's bracket, setting the boys in blue up for an elimination game against the winner of the West Seminole-Hernando game at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Results were not available at press time.
Last year, Spring Hill pitcher Noah Siem left the game against Sebring with a 7-4 lead, only to watch as the boys in blue came back to win in the final inning, 8-7. Sebring also beat Spring Hill 5-3 later in the tournament to eliminate them.
Fast forward to this year's tournament: Sebring and Spring Hill faced each other in the winner's bracket on Tuesday afternoon.
Again, Siem started on the mound for Spring Hill. This year and in this game, he left nothing to chance as he not only shutout the potent Sebring offense, but threw a five inning no-hitter. He kept the Sebring hitters unbalanced while mixing in a slow curve ball and off speed pitches - with an occasional fastball to keep the Sebring batters honest. Siem finished with 11 strike outs and allowed just four walks.
"We faced a great pitcher." Sebring coach Andrew Bible said. "We knew he was a good pitcher and he showed it today."
And Spring Hill coach Shawn Laferty thought the same.
"He kept them off balanced good," Laferty said. "That is a high quality ball club and they have always been high quality since we have been playing them, but the lefty was on. He takes his time and pitches at his speed, which is good, that make the hitter hit his pitch usually."
Sebring's ace, Seth Cannaday, started the game, and retired the first six batters that he faced. The game had all the makings of a pitcher's duel.
The third inning started somewhat harmlessly, as Spring Hill's Robert Bunyon hit a slow roller, but third baseman Jay Bible was not able to make a play.
Cannady got the next two batters to pop up as Bunyon remained on first with two outs. Spring Hill then powered out four base hits, three for extra bases, to take a 4-0 lead.
Luke Laferty started the two out rally with a double into right field that sent Bunyon to third base.
With Siem at the plate, a wild pitch allowed Bunyon to score the first run of the game and advance Laferty to third base. A few pitches later, Siem crushed a two-run homer over the center field fence.
That was followed by a single by Stephen Bienstock, who scored on a triple by Morgan Ashton into right field.
The score remained at 4-0 going into the fifth inning. With two outs and a man on first, Bienstock hit a laser over the right center field fence to put Spring Hill up 6-0.
Unable to record the third out, Sebring continued its meltdown. Cannady walked the next two batters and three consecutive errors allowed three more runs to score as Spring Hill neared the 10 run rule with a 9-0 lead.
Nick Nguyen capped off the scoring for Spring Hill with a double to the left field fence.
Siem came up in the fifth inning as Sebring needed a run to keep the game alive. But he shut the door on the boys in blue to send Sebring into the loser's bracket.
"He is the ace of the staff and is competitive every time he pitches," Laferty said. "He gives you good quality innings. He had his junk working today and he was motivated. When he is throwing curve balls and change ups for strikes, that just rattles the opposing team."