With one mighty swing of his aluminum bat on Sunday, Christian James secured a spot in the state tournament for the East Lake 9-10 all-stars baseball team.
East Lake led Seminole 3-1 in the bottom of the second inning, and with the bases loaded and two outs, looked to add to the lead in the Section 7 tournament finale for both teams.
Batting cleanup, James smacked a drive well over the centerfield wall to clear the bases and give East Lake an insurmountable 7-1 lead. East Lake added five runs in the third inning to win 12-1. The game was shortened to four innings because of the mercy rule.
James also started on the mound and gave up three hits and one unearned run in a complete-game victory. He struck out six.
Marco Benedettini went 2-for-3, laced a double and had three RBIs, and Sean Carney was 2-for-2 with two runs scored for East Lake.
The victory was the third in three games for East Lake, which outscored opponents 32-7 and finished 3-0 at the sectional tournament.
In a 9-2 win over Palma Ceia on Friday, James got the victory on the mound and went 2-for-3 with a home run and five RBIs. Also, Chase Arnold was 3-for-3 with two RBIs, and Bryce Moecklin pitched three innings of relief, yielding only one hit while striking out five.
On Saturday, Cole Moecklin struck out six over 31/3 innings to lead East Lake past Inverness 11-4. Chad Kellmann was 3-for-3 to lead East Lake's offensive charge.
East Lake advances to this weekend's eight-team state competition in Fort Pierce. East Lake will play one pool game Friday and two Saturday. Pool champions and runnersup advance to Sunday's semifinals. The championship is set for Monday.
Pinellas shut out: No county team advanced out of the Section 7 softball tournaments at Oldsmar's Canal Park over the weekend. District 6 (Hillsborough County) took all five — 9-10, 10-11, major, junior and senior — softball titles.
Seminole was the closest to advancing after winning its first two games in 9-10 softball. Seminole edged Crystal River 6-5 on Friday, then blanked Dunedin 16-0 on Saturday, setting up a showdown Sunday with Citrus Park for the sectional crown, which Citrus Park won 15-2.
Largo wins senior baseball: Allen Mead's grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning Saturday lifted Largo past West Pasco 12-9 for the senior baseball District 12 title.
After retaking the lead in the sixth, Largo reliever Chris Ingold came on to pitch the seventh and final inning and shut out West Pasco to get credit for the save. T.J. Glessner had two triples in the championship game for Largo, which finished the tournament 3-0.
Largo advances to this weekend's senior baseball sectional tournament at Keystone Little League in Tampa and will play host Keystone at 6 p.m. Friday in a first-round matchup
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