DUNEDIN — There is an air of inevitability to the Dunedin Spring Classic championship game. The bracket builders planned it. Fans wanted it. Players expected it.
They all got it.
A final between Dunedin and Clearwater Central Catholic, anticipated since the tournament began five days ago, became a reality when both teams won their semifinal games Wednesday.
The county powers will meet at 7:30 Friday night at Knology Park in Dunedin.
The Falcons, ranked 10th in the Class 5A state poll, advanced by beating Countryside 13-0 in a game called after five innings because of the mercy rule.
Dunedin (16-2) started strong with nine runs in the first inning.
"Anytime you can start a game with that big of a lead it's going to be huge," Falcons coach Tom Hilbert said.
Jake Rogers hit two home runs Wednesday and has three for the tournament.
"I'm starting to get real comfortable at the plate," Rogers said. "We're hitting well as a team and playing great baseball."
The run support was more than enough for Max Kreuter and Alex Norris, who combined for eight strikeouts in a one-hit shutout.
"We haven't been in the championship game the past two years, so this was big for us," Kreuter said. "Our hitting and pitching are solid right now."
In the other semifinal, the Marauders, No. 1 in Class 3A, beat the Green Devils 4-2.
James Dowdell hit a double and home run to lead CCC (18-1).
James Petika, making his first start at catcher for the Marauders, threw out three runners in key situations.
"It's nice to be where we're at right now," CCC coach Todd Vaughan said. "We were in a tough draw and came out with what we wanted to accomplish."
In the loser's bracket, Miami Florida Christian beat Canterbury 16-2, Pinellas Park beat River Ridge 6-4, Northeast beat East Lake 7-6 and Tarpon Springs beat Tates Creek (Ky.) 5-3.