SEMINOLE — There was a palpable emotional swing in the final of the Steve Georgiadis Memorial Tournament, the kind that makes it seem as if St. Petersburg is in a district race to stay.
After blowing a lead that forced extra innings Thursday, the Green Devils rallied to beat host Seminole 5-4 in nine innings. It was St. Petersburg’s fourth straight victory and the first time the program has won the tournament.
Better still, the Green Devils beat the Warhawks, one of the favorites in Class 7A, District 10, for the second time this season.
“These kids are starting to believe in each other and finding ways to win,” St. Petersburg coach Travis Phelps said.
Thursday, the Green Devils won in a rather unusual way.
Jake Ferguson was hit by a pitch in the top of the ninth inning. He stole second, moved to third on a balk and trotted home for what turned out to be the winning run on another balk.
“I was hit pretty good on my knuckle when I was up to bat,” Ferguson said. “… It might be fractured. But I couldn’t worry about that.
“I stole second because no one thought I would steal. I had the steal sign again, but the pitcher balked. Same thing happened when I was at third. I know the rule, but I’ve never seen anything like that.”
Still, St. Petersburg had to sweat it out. Seminole had bases loaded with two out before the Green Devils got the final out to seal the game.
“It wasn’t always pretty,” Phelps said. “But a win is a win. And I’ll definitely take this one.”
Seminole started strong and took a 2-0 lead in the third inning on a two-run homer by Corey Baptist.
St. Petersburg rallied in the fifth inning as Ian Smith and Ferguson each had two-run singles that gave the Green Devils a 4-2 lead.
Smith, whose only hit in the final tied the game, was named MVP of the tournament.
“We were pretty confident, even when we fell behind,” Smith said. “We were down 2-0 the last time we played Seminole and came back. We just needed a big inning and got one.”
The Warhawks chipped away at the deficit as Scott Withrow hit a home run in sixth inning and Baptist had a game-tying double in the seventh.
That set up Ferguson’s winning play.
“I think we can look back later and say this tournament was the turning point of our season,” Ferguson said. “Our coach said before the game, if you want make a statement go out and beat Seminole in this tournament.
“Well, we did it.”