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Middleton fights back to beat Leto in 14-inning marathon

BY KEITH NIEBUHR

Times Staff Writer

TAMPA — When Middleton outfielder Tameel Scott crossed the plate to score the winning run in the bottom of the 14th inning against Leto on Friday night, he wasn't just thrilled. He was relieved.

Four innings earlier, Scott had another chance to end it.

But that time, he was tagged out at home while trying to stretch a triple into an inside-the-park home run.

"After that, I kept thinking, 'If we lose, it's on me,' " Scott said.

To say Friday's game, which lasted nearly 41/2 hours before Middleton won it 7-6, was a bit wild would be an incredible understatement. Quite simply, it had a little bit of everything, from remarkable plays to costly miscues.

It even produced an ejection. But after a few minutes, the umpires reversed their decision and allowed the player to re-enter the game.

"I've never experienced anything like this," Tigers coach Vernon Slater said. "In high school, college or professional. Ever."

Given that Middleton (7-6) had failed to score since the third, Leto (6-6) appeared to be in good position to win following a bunt by Falcons pitcher Steven Vidal that brought home Rolando Perazza in the top of the 14th.

But the Tigers weren't ready to concede anything.

"I felt good," Leto coach John Pizzio said. "But I knew what Middleton was capable of."

After a leadoff groundout in the bottom of the 14th, the Tigers put runners at first and second with back-to-back singles. A fielder's choice pushed the lead runner to third as Trekel James stepped to the plate with two outs.

His high-bouncing single tied the game and sent Scott to third.

Moments later, a Vidal breaking ball hit the dirt and scooted to the fence.

"When I saw that, I was like, 'I've got to make it,' " Scott said.

He did, ending a game that isn't likely to be forgotten for some time by those who saw it.

Middleton fights back to beat Leto in 14-inning marathon 03/22/08 [Last modified: Sunday, March 23, 2008 10:20pm]
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