SEMINOLE — A potential championship matchup between crosstown rivals Seminole and Osceola had area baseball fans salivating when the draw for the 22nd annual Steve Georgiadis Holiday Tournament was announced.
The teams played an epic 12-inning game earlier this season.
As it turns out, the Warhawks and the Warriors will meet Saturday, just not for the tournament title.
Clearwater earned a spot in the championship after knocking off tournament host Seminole 8-7.
The Tornadoes (7-11) rallied from a 6-4 deficit entering the final inning.
"The kids really battled," said Clearwater coach David Vince, who picked up his 450th career victory at the high school level. "We started the season 0-5. … So, it's not where you start, it's where you finish. That was a big team win."
Sean O'Brien started the inning for Clearwater with a base hit, and Andrew McCormick drew a one-out walk. Tyler O'Brien walked to load the bases, and Brad James laid down a squeeze bunt to draw the Tornadoes within a run.
Jabe Molinaro walked to load the bases again, and Andre Ortega calmly followed with a two-RBI base hit to put the Tornadoes ahead for good.
"I was just trying to be clutch for my team because we battled back all day," said Ortega, who earlier hit an RBI double.
Three Seminole errors allowed Clearwater to score three times in the fourth. The Tornadoes led 4-2 late, but the Warhawks (12-5) rallied in the sixth with five runs. Gabe Martello and Mike Carlin had RBI singles in the inning, and Tim Lamoureux belted a run-scoring triple.
Clearwater's Daniel Armston (2-2) pitched to one batter in the sixth to get the win. Ortega earned his first save of the season.
Pendleton 5, Osceola 1: A three-run, first-inning home run by Pendleton's John Ryan Murphy was enough for the Panthers to squeeze by Osceola.
Osceola starter Winston Rivas struck out five while surrendering five hits. But a rough a first inning turned out to be the Warriors' undoing.
Rivas walked the first two batters on 3-2 pitches. Then, Murphy lifted an opposite-field home run to put the Panthers ahead 3-0. Connor McCarthy singled home a run later in the inning.
"(Rivas) was a little nervous starting out," Osceola coach Kevin Mullins said. "But he made an adjustment and settled down."
Rivas allowed only one more run over his five innings, in the fourth after Casey Mullholland doubled and an error brought McCarthy home. But Osceola had little success against Pendleton's Jimmy O'Neill, who went the distance throwing a two-hitter.
The Warriors (14-2) scored their lone run in the fourth after consecutive errors put runners at first and third, and T.J. Glessner hit into a force play that scored Taylor Layner.
Pendleton (18-0) and Clearwater will play at 7 p.m. Saturday for the championship. Seminole and Osceola play at 4 p.m. for third place.