Largo lost 5-3 to host West Melbourne on Sunday afternoon but advanced to the semifinals of the Little League Senior Baseball Southeast Region Tournament.
A 1-2 record in Pool B put Largo in a three-way tie for the second semifinal bid. Largo (11-3) won the tiebreaker over Hart County, Ga., and Myrtle Grove Optimist, N.C., because the Florida representative allowed 11 runs, fewer than Georgia (17) and North Carolina (21).
Largo took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Leadoff hitter Derek Gibree, a Clearwater Central Catholic standout, scored the first run. He walked after eight pitches, stole second and scored on a single by Matt Schaefer, a Seminole standout.
In his first start since shutting out Dade City in the state final, Michael Del Monte, the ace who also pitches for Clearwater Central Catholic, was solid but surrendered three runs in the third to put West Melbourne ahead. Largo tied it at 3 in the top of the fifth, then West Melbourne scored two in the bottom half.
The close game gave Largo players and coaches confidence.
"There's no doubt that I feel like we're as good as (West Melbourne)," Largo coach Bob Gibree said. "I told the kids that it doesn't matter how we got here. Anything can happen now."
Largo faces Darlington County, S.C., at 10 this morning. South Carolina won Pool A with a 3-0 record and is 6-1 over the past two weeks since winning its district. It is the second straight season Darlington has represented South Carolina in the Senior Baseball region tournament.
Largo needs two wins to become the first Suncoast team to advance to the Little League Senior World Series in Bangor, Maine, since Dade City in 2004.
West Melbourne plays Virginia at 10:30 this morning.
The title game is at 10:30 Tuesday morning.