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Baseball: Eight-run seventh-inning rally carries Dunedin past East Lake in Dunedin Spring Invitational final

Dunedin players rush Kyle Kunnen, center, who scores the winning run after tournament MVP Chase Smith draws a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of seventh against East Lake.

BRIAN BLANCO | Special to the Times

Dunedin players rush Kyle Kunnen, center, who scores the winning run after tournament MVP Chase Smith draws a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of seventh against East Lake.

DUNEDIN — For 6½ innings Saturday afternoon, East Lake did everything right.

Sawyer Wilson, the Eagles starter, dominated. The hitters throughout the order contributed. And East Lake added to what was already a comfortable lead.

The Eagles led Dunedin by seven runs heading into the bottom of the seventh. They were three outs away from vanquishing their greatest tormenters, and on the brink of winning the Dunedin Spring Invitational for the first time since 2007.

It didn't happen.

In one of the greatest comebacks in the event's history, the Falcons scored eight runs in the seventh, the last coming when Chase Smith drew a bases-loaded walk to bring home Kyle Kunnen in an 8-7 victory. Dunedin won its own tournament for the first time since 2005.

"That's why you play 21 outs," Dunedin coach Tom Hilbert said. "The great thing about baseball is there is not a clock on you. More times than not, you're not going to come back like that. But we got a couple of breaks, and we'll take them."

Through six innings, Dunedin managed just six hits off Wilson. Down 3-0 in the top of the seventh, the Falcons gave up four runs, all with two outs.

"At that point, I didn't expect us to come back," Smith said.

Austin Bembnowski relieved Wilson. He walked Kunnen, forced Alex Libby to fly out and hit Mike Tipton with a pitch.

That was all the Falcons needed to get going. In all, they sent nine batters up in the inning, had five hits and took advantage of two errors. The big hits included run-scoring doubles by Smith and Ben Emery, and a two-run single by Casey Turgeon.

"I think once it became 7-4 we started thinking we had a chance," said Smith, the tournament MVP. "We were smacking the ball around a bit."

Brian Johnson relieved Bembnowski with one out and faced the final five batters. With bases loaded and a full count, he walked Smith on what was a close call.

SP Catholic 7, CC Catholic 5: The Barons had 16 hits and opened a 7-1 lead heading into the seventh. Connor Obrochta went 3-for-4 with an RBI double to lead SPC.

Tarpon Springs 6, King's Academy 1: Trevor Smith allowed just five hits, and Josiah Fisk, Caleb Koulianos and Nick Miller each had two hits to lead the Spongers over the team from West Palm Beach.

All-tourney team

As chosen by coaches:

Pitchers: Mike Clarkson (Dunedin), Zach Gordon (East Lake), Brian Johnson (East Lake), Matt Leiber (King's Academy), Dakota McLean (St. Petersburg), Alex Norris (Dunedin), Donny Norris (Pinellas Park), Sawyer Wilson (East Lake)

Catchers: Tommy Grill (Tarpon Springs), James Petika (CCC), Jordan Savinon (Dunedin)

Infielders: Zac Johnson (Palm Harbor U.), Jordan Nolan (CCC), Ryan Reinoso (Pinellas Park), Danny Robinson (Tarpon Springs)

Outfielders: Morgan Cowan (East Lake), Chris McKay (SPC), Tyler Moll (St. Petersburg), Dominic Monda (Countryside), Connor Obrochta (St. Petersburg Catholic), Eric Simone (CCC), Chase Smith (Dunedin)

Utility: Matt Freburg (Tarpon Springs), Gio Marrero (Tampa Catholic), Chris Ruggiero (Tarpon Springs), Bobby Twitty (SPC)

Hitting award: Zac Johnson (PHU); Pitching award: Alex Norris (Dunedin). Tournament MVP: Chase Smith (Dunedin)

Baseball: Eight-run seventh-inning rally carries Dunedin past East Lake in Dunedin Spring Invitational final 04/03/10 [Last modified: Sunday, April 4, 2010 12:18am]

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