District 12 Little League strikes late for title

DUNEDIN — Palm Harbor's Matt Freburg stepped to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning against West Pasco and saw an opportunity to make up for earlier miscues.

Freburg started on the mound for Palm Harbor and, with a 4-0 lead, had been cruising through five innings before West Pasco got to him in the sixth, chasing the right-hander with one out. West Pasco scored three times in the sixth and once in the seventh to tie the score at 4 in a game that seemed destined for extra innings.

Freburg, though, wasn't going to let that happen. With Mike Tipton on third base and one out, Freburg smacked a single up the middle past a drawn-in infield to give Palm Harbor a 5-4 win and the District 12 15-16 baseball title.

Palm Harbor advances to the sectional tournament, which begins July 18 at Cross Bayou Little League in Seminole.

"I was hoping to get an opportunity," Freburg said of his winning at-bat. "It was a battle with the pitcher. I just tried to stay focused. He threw an inside pitch, and I was luckily able to get around on it."

Palm Harbor seemed to be cruising toward the district title after scoring four in the fourth inning. James Petika's double brought home the first run. Freburg followed with an RBI triple, and RBI groundouts from Steve Sciarappa and Dom Cerniglia made it 4-0.

Freburg, meanwhile, had allowed just three hits through five innings before getting into trouble in the sixth. Mike Alford's RBI single scored West Pasco's first run, and Freburg loaded the bases by hitting the next batter.

Ryan Allen entered for Palm Harbor but walked Ricky Handschumacher to bring in another run. Cameron Hokenson's RBI groundout made it 4-3.

In the seventh, Alford came through with a two-out single to tie it at 4 before Freburg's heroics.

District 12

13-14 baseball semifinals: Two years ago as a 12-year-old, Dean Coston pitched against East Lake in a semifinal only to come up short in an 8-0 loss.

Thursday against East Lake — this time in the junior division — Coston pitched a no-hit shutout to lead Clearwater to Sunday's championship against Dunedin.

Brett Gilman and Jonathan Bradford each reached base three out of their four times to lead Clearwater.

11-12 baseball semifinals: David Paul went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs to lead East Lake past Tarpon Springs.

Mario Micketti went 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI for East Lake, which faces Countryside today for the district title.

• Trailing 7-2 against Largo going into the final inning, Countryside scored six runs. Trevor Mathews hit a bases-loaded double to bring the team closer, and Raymond Hansen drew a bases-loaded walk to score Bobby Held with the winning run.

>>Fast facts

Results

District 12

13-14 baseball semifinals

Dunedin 10, Palm Harbor 2

Clearwater 13, East Lake 0, 5 innings

11-12 baseball semifinals

Countryside 8, Largo 7

East Lake 12, Tarpon Springs 6

Today's schedule

11-12 baseball championship at West Pasco

East Lake vs. Countryside, 7 p.m.

District 12 Little League strikes late for title 07/10/08 [Last modified: Friday, July 11, 2008 8:13pm]

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