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Baseball: Hollis heats up on mound to put Dixie in Northeast Tournament final

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Wed. March 28, 2012 | Bob Putnam | Email

ST. PETERSBURG — Every start for John Hollis is a revelation. He started the season as a closer. He is now a member of Dixie Hollins’ rotation.

On Tuesday, he flummoxed Lakewood hitters, throwing a complete-game two-hitter to lead the Rebels to a 4-3 victory in the semifinals of the Northeast Spring Tournament.

Dixie Hollins (12-5) advances to play Cypress Creek at 7 in tonight’s championship game.

“(Hollis) threw well and kept hitters off balance,” Rebels coach Jason Szafarski said. “He’s thrown some pretty good games for us, and this one was right up there.”

After the Spartans scored twice in the first inning, due in part to some shaky defense, Hollis steadied himself. He was aggressive with his fastball, using that pitch to set up his others and, when necessary, to finish off a hitter.

For the rest of the game he mowed down batters with rhythmic efficiency, his pitches continuously slicing the edges of the strike zone. Hollis allowed just five batters to reach base in the final five innings, two of which came on errors.

Dixie Hollins got the runs it needed in the first two innings. The Rebels had five hits, all singles, in the first inning and scored three runs to take a 3-2 lead. In the second inning, Joey Simmons doubled and came home on a double by Ray Lanners for what turned out to be the winning run.

The Spartans scored once in the third inning but did not get any closer.

By the fifth inning, Hollis had thrown more than 90 pitches, but Szafarski said he was not about to take his starter out of the game.

“It was his game to finish,” Szafarski said of Hollis.

Simmons was 2-for-2 and Lanners was 2-for-3 for the Rebels. Lakewood was led by Cornelius Copeland, who had four stolen bases and scored two of the Spartans’ three runs.

Shorecrest 4, Northeast 1 (11 innings): The Chargers scored three runs in the 11th to beat the Vikings in a loser’s bracket game.

Shorecrest starter Marc Brakeman had 10 strikeouts but eventually gave way to Jason Kiracofe, who pitched the final two innings to pick up the win. Kiracofe also went 3-for-5.

James Downey had an RBI double to lead the Vikings.

Brooks-DeBartolo 15, Clearwater 10: The Tornadoes scored early but could not keep up in a consolation game. Colin Lonsberry was 3-for-4 and scored three runs for Clearwater.

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