PALM HARBOR — It wasn't exactly the way Zach Sobel had envisioned his ultimate winning scenario, but the Palm Harbor University second baseman will definitely take it.
With two outs in the ninth inning and two on base Wednesday, the Hurricanes senior laced a 1-0 fastball from Dunedin reliever Mike Clarkson just past first baseman Alex Norris, sending Joe Dhani home from third for the decisive run in PHU's 3-2 victory.
"Everybody dreams about a walk-off home run, but I'll take a single," said Sobel, who went 3-for-5. "I was looking fastball all the way and I knew I just had to get the bat on the ball. It's a huge win, beating the defending state champs."
Sobel's hit came after the Hurricanes, who hadn't beaten the rival Falcons (4-2) in four years, had been one out from wrapping up a win in the seventh in a game that saw the Falcons strand 16 runners.
Pitching was instrumental in keeping the Hurricanes (6-3) within striking distance. After starter Kyle Westwood escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third inning, the right-hander allowed a go-ahead run when Ryan Reedy singled home Jordan Savinon. But Westwood battled out of the inning, leaving two on base.
"The one thing we've stressed (to the pitchers) is to control the inside of the plate and establish the zone," Palm Harbor University coach Jeremy Albrecht said. "They did a good job with that and it allowed them to get out of some jams."
The Hurricanes scored two runs in the fourth to take the lead before the Falcons evened the game in the seventh with a two-out rally. Norris followed Clarkson's single with a dribbler down the third-base line and Ben Emery and Savinon induced walks off reliever Dan Murray.
Albrecht brought in Matt Allison, who struck out Eric Kreuter to end the inning. Allison earned the victory after the right-hander stranded runners in scoring position in the eighth and ninth innings.