ST. PETERSBURG — Clearwater came back from a seven-run deficit but Mitchell pulled out an exciting one-run, walkoff win Tuesday to advance to the Northeast Tournament final with a 9-8 victory.
With the score tied at 8 and one out, the Mustangs’ Chris McCormick reached on a double, just beating out the throw to second. After an intentional walk to Cobi Johnson, Marcus Begg singled up the middle, bringing McCormick home with the winning run.
“I knew that I had to score no matter what,” said McCormick, who was outstanding as Mitchell’s starting pitcher and had two doubles.
The Mustangs (14-3) now face Northeast, which beat Sunlake on Monday night. The championship game is Wednesday.
Clearwater took a 1-0 lead in the first when Clay Gilman scored on a fielder’s choice. Mitchell responded in the bottom of the frame as McCormick scored on a deep sac fly by Eddie Goscicki. Johnson added a second run on a single by PJ DeJesus. The Mustangs, who scored two runs in each of the first three innings, had five doubles.
After going scoreless for four innings, the Tornadoes (4-8) pushed two runs across in the sixth to trim Mitchell’s lead to 8-3. Then, after Mitchell relieved McCormick to begin the seventh, Clearwater pushed across five runs to tie the game. With the bases loaded, Reed Avers hit a deep sac fly to make the score 8-5. Hits by Nick Solenberger and Reed Brinkman, sandwiched around the second Mitchell error of the inning, tied the game at 8.
In addition to scoring the winning run, McCormick pitched six strong innings, striking out 11. Although Clearwater started its comeback once he was relieved of pitching duty, McCormick said he wasn’t upset at being taken out of the game.
“As long as we get the win,” he said.