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Deaths spur team to title

The Pinellas Park 13-under Dizzy Dean team recently won the World Series. The wristbands worn by the players read, “Play 4 Us,” a tribute to four peers who died in a car crash.

Special to the Times

The Pinellas Park 13-under Dizzy Dean team recently won the World Series. The wristbands worn by the players read, “Play 4 Us,” a tribute to four peers who died in a car crash.

If Pinellas Park's 13-under Dizzy Dean players ever need motivation, all they have to do is look at their wrists.

The white "Play 4 Us'' wristbands are a constant reminder of the car accident in Seminole last year that took the lives of four of their peers.

While the team represents Pinellas Park and plays at Davis Field, some of the players are from Seminole. They remember the late-night accident that killed Nathan Richardson, Joseph Ruzecki, Keith MacCollom and LeShawn Smith in April 2009. While younger than the four boys, they were still familiar with them in the tight Seminole community.

When the team won the Dizzy Dean state tournament and qualified for last week's World Series in Commerce, Ga., the players vowed to play for their friends.

"I think it acted as motivation for us,'' manager Mike Dodaro said. "Our kids understand how fortunate they are.

"They have their health. They have two parents. They were playing for those kids.''

Pinellas Park rolled through the tournament, winning six straight games, including 15-0 against West Bank, La., in the final. Nick Canchani threw a one-hitter to earn the victory.

"He really kept them off balance all game long,'' Dodaro said. "It was actually a close game for the first five innings. We were only up 1-0, but then we pulled away.''

There were 16 teams from the Southeast competing in the tournament.

Other players on the Pinellas Park team were: Chris Berry, Jacob Silverstein, Billy Atterbury, Mike Dodaro, Ryan Savidge, JoJo Perry, Ty Joritz, Phil Atkinson, Dan Oberst and James Laporte.

Berry, Silverstein and Canchani were named to the all-tournament team. Savidge was the tournament's MVP, and Oberst was the defensive MVP.

With the season over, the team might never play together again. But they will always have the World Series championship they won for their friends.


Ben Vertz won the 64th annual Florida Open Championship last weekend at Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor. Vertz, who is from Coral Springs and plays college golf at Nova Southeastern, shot a three-round total of 210 for a three-shot victory. Locally, Devin Hernandez of Seminole finished fifth with a 216. Bill Shriver of Largo shot a 225 as did Matt Mitchell of Dunedin. Both won $960 as professionals. The top professional was Richard Terga of Palm Beach Gardens, who finished fourth and won $12,000.

• The County Golf Association held a tournament July 19 at East Lake Country Club's North Course. The regular division gross winners were Ben Beckman and Mark Wheaton, who shot a 65. The overall net winners were Jim Barrie and Craig Crisco, who shot a 69.

• The latest Largo Golf Course biweekly 18-hole scramble was held July 17. The scramble comprised seven teams (26 players). The team of Shane Stein (Largo), Ed Galasti (Indian Shores) and Peggy Bingham (Largo) won with a score of 50 (12 under par).

• The West Coast Women's Golf Association held a tournament July 19 at Countryside Country Club. The AA Flight winner was Lisa Hartley of Clearwater Country Club, who shot an 82. The A Flight winner was Mary Ann Neary of East Lake Woodlands Country Club, who shot an 84.


The Florida Hit and Run under-13 team recently won the IBC World Series in St. Petersburg.

It won two of three games to earn the fourth seed in the 10-team tournament.

Then it won three straight to get into the championship game against Southeast Baseball, which it beat 8-4. The team was: Brian Auerbach, Douglas Borgh, Britton Araujo, Chris Chiger, Mijon Cummings, Tyler Hawks, Harrison Keslar, Colton King, Jesse Lapore, Keegan Maronpot, Trevor Matthews, Jordan Norman and Travis Skelton. The manager was former Ray Midre Cummings.


The 12-under Clearwater Bullets fast-pitch team recently won the Independent Softball Associations World Series in Auburndale. The team is: Megan Jankiewicz, Daniella Matthews, Danielle Romanello, Anya Muyres, Amanda Ross, Brook Schwaner, Ysabella Canto, Katie Vega, Kacyn Shirley, Jordyn Counts, Taylor Bump, Kylie Randolph, Cameron Shirley and Marisa Rivera. The coaches are Todd Ross and John Counts.


The sixth annual Harry Beierlein Scholarship tournament was held July 17 at Sunrise Lanes. The Division 1 winner was Alexis Genevie. The Division 2 winner was Mitch Roth.

Deaths spur team to title 07/24/10 [Last modified: Friday, July 23, 2010 1:18pm]
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