CLEARWATER — After reaching the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2003, Seminole entered Friday's Class 5A region semifinal in the role of underdog.
The Warhawks were playing Dunedin, which had won three of the previous four meetings this season. Few thought the Falcons could lose. Dunedin was too experienced, the experts said. Too explosive. Too much.
But Seminole (24-5) didn't listen — it believed — and the Warhawks advanced to the region finals with a stunning 11-5 victory.
"We all knew we had a chance to win," Seminole coach Greg Olsen said. "But we'd never think in a million years the score would be like this. We played our best game of the season."
Not only did the Warhawks believe, but they attacked the favored Falcons (24-4) from the start. In the first inning, Seminole's Brett Phillips led off with a triple, the first of four straight hits that helped the Warhawks build a 3-0 lead.
"I had the mindset of going up and getting on base," said Phillips, who was 3-for-5 with three runs scored. "We wanted to get one run in the first inning and go from there. We were pretty shocked the way we were able to start."
Seminole wasn't finished. In the second inning, the Warhawks added four more runs to go ahead 7-0. In all, Seminole had 10 hits the first two innings, including 10 off Dunedin starter Mike Clarkson.
It was quite a turnaround considering the Warhawks managed just one run combined in two previous games against Clarkson.
"I think it helped facing (Clarkson) for a third time," said Seminole infielder Joey Krehbiel, who was 3-for-4. "We were able to get in more of a comfort zone because we've seen all his pitches."
The Warhawks scored three more runs in the fourth inning to take a 10-0 lead and were threatening to end the game early via the mercy rule. But the Falcons showed some life in the bottom half of the inning, scoring off an RBI groundout by Clarkson and an RBI flyout by Ben Emery.
After both teams traded runs in the fifth inning, Dunedin came to life with two more runs in the sixth inning. The Falcons had a chance to add more, but Chase Smith hit a hard line drive that resulted in a flyout with runners on first and third.
Dunedin, which had overcome big leads before, could not overcome this one and went down in order in the seventh.
"This just wasn't Dunedin baseball tonight," Falcons coach Tom Hilbert said.