DUNEDIN — If the game was going continue, this was not the way Dunedin starter Mike Clarkson wanted it to. Not with a Clearwater Central Catholic runner reaching on an error, stealing second and advancing to third on a passed ball. And not with a one-run lead potentially evaporating in the blink of an eye.
With all of that riding on his shoulders Friday — and with one out — Clarkson looked at the runner, broke from the stretch and delivered a pitch.
On a suicide squeeze attempt, the Marauders' batter whiffed on the bunt and Preston Packrall, the runner at third, was an easy out. After getting out of that jam, Clarkson struck out the next batter to secure the Falcons' 2-1 victory.
Dunedin plays East Lake in today's championship game at 3 p.m. at Dunedin Stadium.
"It was a tough situation, but I had trust in my defense the entire time," Clarkson said. "We made a couple of mistakes early, but we got a lot of ground balls and kept making plays."
Clarkson also had the winning hit, a single in the sixth inning that drove in Mike Tipton.
In a pitcher's duel between Clarkson and Dominic Delmonte, neither team could muster much offense. There were a combined six hits and only one extra-base hit.
The Marauders' best threat to send the game into extra innings came in the seventh when Packrall reached on an error. On the next pitch, he stole second to put him in scoring position. On that play, Dunedin shortstop Casey Turgeon covered the base on the attempted steal and turned his ankle. He remained in the game but his status for today's final is uncertain, Falcons coach Tom Hilbert said.
Pinellas Park 6, Tampa Catholic 1: After losing two straight, the Patriots got a momentum-building win against the reeling Crusaders. Ryan Reinoso had a double and triple and Justin Warren had a double and home run to lead Pinellas Park.