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4A baseball: Miscues are Hernando's undoing against Dunnellon

BROOKSVILLE — The hurricane in Tim Sims' brain came pouring out of his mouth.

For Hernando's veteran baseball coach, the distractions of the world end within the foul lines of a baseball field.

Some of his personal thoughts somehow got tangled in the bitter agony of an 11-0 loss Friday night to Dunnellon in a Class 4A region final. Perhaps some of his words were inspired by the presence of Hernando alumnus and Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, who received a warm welcome.

"In certain situations when things start going bad it's human nature (to start pointing fingers at others)," Sims said. "I hate talking politics, but the current administration wants to blame the previous administration — everyone pointing fingers.

"On a baseball field, you either make the plays or you don't."

Fielding miscues and soft bats — two intangibles of the Leopards' unanticipated postseason run — proved to be Hernando's (21-10) undoing.

The Tigers (24-5) scored 11 runs on 11 hits, including four of the first five runs on three Hernando errors.

Through two-and-a-half innings, the teams appeared even. And in the final two and a half, the Tigers roared.

The onslaught began in the bottom of the third, an RBI single by Tigers cleanup hitter David Bouton. A fielding error in the outfield then allowed two more runs to score for a 3-0 lead.

Dunnellon coach Tommy Boss, who once starred as a pitcher at Florida, could sense the chance to seize control with one more run.

"When we get to plus-four we feel like we've accomplished what we need to do offensively," Boss said. "With our pitching and our defense, four runs …was a big relief. Their kids were diving for balls in the outfield. A foot one way or another and it would have been a different story."

Dunnellon picked up that fourth run in the fourth inning on a fielder's choice, bringing in Forrest Wheeler from third base.

The game got out of hand in the top of the fifth when Dunnellon exploded for seven runs on five hits. Hernando pitcher Justin Gates went 4 1/3 innings with five strikeouts, nine hits and six runs before Austin Rollins finished the game.

Hernando then went in order in the bottom half of the fifth to end the game.

Talk quickly turned to next season. Hernando will only lose two starters and should be a favorite to contend for another district title.

"(Dunnellon) had experience and we had home-field advantage," Sims said. "We found out what was more important tonight. …Experience is big. Our kids now have experience, and we'll see how they do."

Izzy Gould can be reached at igould@tampabay.com or (813) 421-3886.

4A baseball: Miscues are Hernando's undoing against Dunnellon 05/14/10 [Last modified: Friday, May 14, 2010 10:29pm]
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