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DUNEDIN — In the championship game of the Dunedin Spring Tournament against Tarpon Springs on Friday night, Osceola coach Stefan Futch handed the ball to sophomore Buddy Dougherty and hoped for the best.
He got much more than he had hoped for.
Dougherty, third in the Warriors’ rotation, threw a complete-game four-hitter to help Osceola to a 4-1 win. It is the first Dunedin tournament title in school history.
“He was the freshest arm we had,” Futch said. “If we could just get through the first few innings, he would settle down and get into the game. Then we’ll see what happens.”
The Warriors got to Tarpon Springs’ top pitcher, Caleb Koulianos, in the first inning. Josh Townsend led off with a walk and one batter later Rickey Whiteman singled. A walk to Evan Hock loaded the bases for Justin Kremer.
Kremer hit a slow grounder to Koulianos, who threw wide to home. Townsend and Whiteman scored. A passed ball allowed pinch-runner Jon Boriboun to score from third make it 3-0.
That’s all the runs Dougherty needed.
He cruised through the first two innings without allowing a hit. Dougherty, who improved to 3-0, didn’t get into any serious trouble until the fifth inning. A base hit by Brendan Overton and an error on a Shane Ludlow grounder put two on for the Spongers (14-4).
After a sacrifice bunt by Michael Dunningan put runners on second and third with one out, Marco Karay hit a fly ball to left. Whiteman caught the ball and gunned down Overton at home for the third out.
In the top of the sixth, Osceola (15-3) added a run. With the bases loaded and one out, Jordan Ramsey hit a grounder to shortstop and the Spongers were unable to turn the double play.
Tarpon Springs’ lone run came in the sixth when Tommy Grill hit a sacrifice fly to scored Cole Miklavcic. Dougherty got three straight outs in the seventh to end the game.
“He was huge,” said Whiteman, who was named the tournament’s most valuable player. “We kind of ran out of pitching and he stepped it up. We really needed that.”
Dougherty, who was the last player cut from last year’s team, said having three runs on the board before he took the mound was comforting.
“It’s a big stage and I was a little nervous in the beginning,” Dougherty said. “But once I got out there it was all good. That three-run cushion helped a lot.”
In the third-place game, East Lake beat Clearwater Central Catholic 12-2. In the fifth-place game, Dunedin beat St. Petersburg 5-2.