Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Youth Sports

Citrus Park rolls to World Series berth

GULFPORT — Up until the championship game at the Little League major baseball Southeast Regional, the hot topic making the rounds at Arnold S. White Sr. Stadium centered around Westside Alabama's power-laden lineup.

In four games prior to Friday's title game, Alabama scored 45 runs. The team from Mobile crushed an astounding 20 home runs.

The championship game eventually turned into a home run derby. However, it was Citrus Park doing the smashing at the final Southeast Regional game to be played at the Gulfport stadium.

Holding a comfortable 5-0 lead heading into its half of the fifth inning, Citrus Park put Westside away with four home runs. The last, coming off the bat of Wyatt Reid, closed a dominating performance by Citrus Park and put an exclamation point on an 11-0, mercy rule-shortened victory, clinching a spot in next week's World Series in Williamsport, Pa.

"Once we get it going, we seem to hit in bunches," Reid said. "We finally got it going. It's the first time we've hit all tournament."

Toward the conclusion of the game, it seemed the final question remaining to be answered was whether Citrus Park, located in northwest Hillsborough County, would get to 10 runs to enforce the mercy rule.

Danny Lastra drilled the first pitch he saw for a two-run shot to give Citrus Park a 7-0 lead. Brett Wilkosz hit a solo homer off reliever Dominick Martin, and Kevin Merrell hit a towering solo home run over the ESPN tower in straightaway centerfield to make it 9-0 before Reid smacked a two-out pitch over the leftfield fence.

"Really, I wasn't happy with the finish of the game," Citrus Park manager Joe McGuire said. "Those guys from Alabama are nice guys."

Citrus Park pitchers Mike McGuire and Reid held Alabama's vaunted offensive attack to just three hits. McGuire started, lasting two innings and striking out four before leaving because of a hand injury.

"On a bare-handed play that he made, when he threw the ball, he said it felt like his arm was going to fall off," Joe McGuire said of his son. "I had to make the switch."

Reid, who hit two home runs and finished with seven RBIs, continued right where Mike McGuire left off. The kid nicknamed Vegas struck out four and kept the Alabama hitters guessing all night.

"I'll tell you one thing, he was dealing it from the mound," Joe McGuire said.

Reid's RBI groundout gave Citrus Park a 1-0 lead in the first inning. His three-run homer in the third put Citrus Park firmly in control.

With the victory, Citrus Park heads to the Little League World Series. It opens play Friday at 2 p.m. against the Midwest Regional champion (to be determined today). Citrus Park will start fundraising for the trip this morning.

"I told the boys before the game we need to come out and hit like we did in the state championship game," McGuire said, referring to the team's 12-1 victory against Fort Myers. "They came out and they did it."

Florida 11

Alabama 0

Citrus Park rolls to World Series berth 08/08/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 12, 2008 3:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze resigns over 'inappropriate conduct' (w/ video)


    OXFORD, Miss. — Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze was at Jackson Country Club on Wednesday night, giving his yearly rah-rah speech about the Rebels overcoming adversity and getting ready for the college football season.

    If Hugh Freeze hadn’t resigned, Ole Miss says it would have fired him for violating his contract’s moral turpitude clause.
  2. Fennelly: With playoff chase in high gear, it's time for Rays to make a move

    The Heater


    Thursday was an off-day for the Rays, who are coming off a solid western swing. I assume there was no rest for the tag-team Rays baseball brain trust of Matt Silverman, Erik Neander and Chaim Bloom, whose job it is to improve this team in advance of the trade deadline. They've done a good job …

    Evan Longoria is glad to see the Rangers coming to town: He’s batting .296 against them with 15 homers and 56 RBIs in 69 career games.
  3. Rays vs. Rangers, 7:10 p.m. Friday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Rangers

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  4. Good news for Rays on Steven Souza Jr. as MRI shows 'no damage' to hip


    The Rays got good news today on RF Steven Souza Jr., as an MRI showed "no damage" to his left hip.

    Steven Souza Jr. #20 of the Tampa Bay Rays holds his leg after hurting himself trying to steal second base in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on July 19, 2017 in Oakland, California.
  5. Bucs raise prices for single tickets to marquee games


    The Bucs will have single-game tickets for 2017 home games on sale July 28, with a new wrinkle: the best games will cost more for fans.

    Bucs fans cheer Jameis Winston after a victory in their final home game of the 2016 season. Individual tickets for the Bucs' three most coveted home games (against the Patriots, Bears and Giants) will cost more in 2017.