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SEMINOLE — The Class 5A, District 11 semifinals were supposed to be a formality before Dunedin and Seminole, the top two seeds, renewed their rivalry with a rematch of last year’s championship game.
Neither team made it.
In stunning fashion, East Lake, the No. 3 seed beat the No. 2 seed Falcons 10-0 in a game called after six innings because of the mercy rule. Tarpon Springs, the No. 4 seed, followed with a 2-0 victory over the No. 1 seed Warhawks.
The Eagles and Spongers will meet in Friday’s championship game.
East Lake’s victory was not all that surprising considering it handed Dunedin one of its district losses this season.
It was the score that turned some heads.
The Eagles (18-9) had 10 hits, most of which were choppers or bunts that were beat out for singles. They scored a run each in the third, fourth and fifth innings. Then came the sixth when East Lake sent 13 batters up and scored seven runs. Morgan Cowan led the team, going 3-for-4 with a double and two run-scoring singles.
“We were confident we could win,” Cowan said. “But nothing like this. We just got a hold of some pitches and came out swinging. It was by far the best we’ve played all season.”
Meanwhile, Eagles pitcher Eric Hanhold threw a three-hit shutout to beat the Falcons for the second time this season.
“We planned on using a couple of arms in the game,” East Lake coach Dan Genna said. “But Eric really pitched well and we got some runs.”
In the other semifinal, Spongers starter Caleb Koulianos threw a two-hit shutout to knock off the Warhawks.
“We just wanted to come out and prove that we could do it,” Koulianos said. “I just pounded the strike zone and the defense was big.”
In the fifth inning, Anthony Bariso hit a double and came home on a single by Danny Robinson for the winning run. Koulianos added an insurance run in the seventh inning with a single that scored Cody Ludlow, who reached on a single.
The Spongers (18-10) have won 13 of their past 16 games.
“We played a great game against a tremendous team,” Tarpon Springs coach Dickie Hart said. “We fought hard and we’re getting better every game.”