Saturday, June 23, 2018
Sports

Plant City 10-11 Little League all-stars best in the Southeast

As a group of 9- and 10-year-olds, last year's Plant City Little League All-Stars earned the title of best team in the Southeast. So there was a little pressure when the same group showed up to try and win the same title as 10- and 11-year-olds.

But pressure does not appear to be a hindrance to this bunch.

After emerging from a semifinal game it won after being down to its last out, Plant City defeated Goodlettsville, Tenn., 4-1 to win the Tournament of State Champions last week.

The tourney was in Greenville, N.C.

"These guys play on different teams during the regular season, but when they all got back together for all-stars it was like night and day," said Plant City manager T.J. Messick. "They were fired up and ready to get going."

Carrying over all but one of the 11 players that won last year's 9-10 regional tourney crown, Plant City had the look of a champion all along.

But as opposed to last year's undefeated run through the entire postseason, this time difficult obstacles threatened to end the trip.

In Greenville, the Plant City team started with a narrow victory, 3-2 over Northwood, S.C. That was followed by the last-inning rally against Tennessee, and finally a defeat of Goodlettsville — and its incredible pitcher — that handed Plant City its only loss in Greenville.

Plant City had no answer for Hunter Crawford's mid-70 mph fastball and lost to the Tennessee team 5-2 in pool play.

Facing the hard-throwing Crawford again in the finals, Plant City stunned the pro-Tennessee crowd by putting up two runs in the first inning. And curveball master J.J. Gonzalez shut down the Tennessee bats.

Plant City's success the second time around against Crawford was no accident. Assistant coach Steve Shissler threw batting practice to the kids the morning of the game.

"We knew Tennessee would probably pitch (Crawford). We couldn't touch him the first game," Shissler said. "He was one of the hardest throwing 11-year-old pitchers we'd seen. So we set up the L-screen about 35 to 40 feet away. I was bringing it much harder than the boys had seen from us coaches to that point. They all made contact and hit some hard shots. So when we went into the game, we were actually ahead of Crawford just a bit."

In 16 postseason games Plant City had seven different pitchers post victories: Gonzalez, Bryar Christian, Andrew Long, Dylan Robinson, Parker Messick, Ben Pues and Cade Shissler. Long and Christian both led the way with four.

Christian doubled as the hottest hitter, compiling a .519 average and having the knack for clutch situations. Gonzalez had four homers while Christian, Hunter Emerine and Robinson all had at least two.

Connor Rogers, Shissler, Braxton Plunk — whose double got things going in the final — and Jake Stines all hit .400 or higher And Rogers led a tremendous defense from third base, making a number of great plays.

Comments
Rodney Page’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

Rodney Page’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

1. SS Willy Adames had a nice night, and there appear to be many more in his future. He had two hits, an RBI and an inning-ending leaping catch on a line drive by Didi Gregorius in the fifth.2. DH C.J. Cron needs to shake things up. Take a different ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Marc Anthony pays a visit to the Trop

Marc Anthony pays a visit to the Trop

By Allana BarefieldTimes Staff WriterST. PETERSBURG — Latin pop star Marc Anthony visited Tropicana Field on Friday to see his beloved Yankees play the Rays.Anthony spent nearly an hour on the field before the game as fans and players surrounde...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Rays journal: Daniel Robertson’s return crowds up infield

Rays journal: Daniel Robertson’s return crowds up infield

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays reinstated INF Daniel Robertson from the 10-day disabled list (left hamstring strain). To make room, RHP Austin Pruitt was sent to Triple-A Durham."It's out of my mind. I don't think about (the hamstring) when I'm bend...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Brady Singer, Gators eliminated by Arkansas at CWS

Brady Singer, Gators eliminated by Arkansas at CWS

Times wiresOMAHA, Neb.  —Defending champion Florida failed to win a third straight elimination game, losing to Arkansas 5-2 Friday night and departing the College World Series.The Gators (49-21) had to win to force a rematch. The Razorback...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Rays hang on for a 2-1 win over Yankees

Rays hang on for a 2-1 win over Yankees

ST. PETERSBURG – Many times this season the Rays' strategy of opening the game with a short reliever and using the bullpen to finish hasn't had much success.Friday wasn't one of those nights.A total of six pitchers held the Yankees and their va...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Sports on TV/radio for Saturday, June 23

TODAYArena FootballAlbany at Baltimore7:30 p.m.CBSSNAutosF1: French Grand Prix10 a.m.ESPN2Monster Energy Cup: Toyota/Save Mart 350 qualifying2:30 p.m.FS1IndyCar: Kohler Grand Prix qualifying6:30 p.m.NBCSNTrucks: Eaton 2008:30 p.m.FS1BaseballRangers a...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Rowdies fall to Penn FC

Rowdies fall to Penn FC

By Darek SharpTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — For the second time this season, Penn FC got two goals from a former Rowdie that led the way to a win over Tampa Bay.Lucky Mkosana doubled his season total Friday in a comeback 2-1 win before an...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Ronald Darby’s friend: Jameis Winston got into second Uber ride alone

Ronald Darby’s friend: Jameis Winston got into second Uber ride alone

New details emerged Friday night about the Uber ride in Arizona in March 2016 that led to Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston's three-game suspension to start the upcoming season, including the fact that Winston was in a car that night with a former Vand...
Published: 06/22/18
Lightning re-signs backup goalie Louis Domingue to 2-year deal

Lightning re-signs backup goalie Louis Domingue to 2-year deal

The Lightning has re-signed one of its restricted free agents in backup goalie Louis Domingue, who will be back with Tampa Bay on a two-year deal worth $2.3 million.Domingue, 26, was acquired from Arizona in November after he had posted a 4.33 goals-...
Published: 06/22/18
Lightning names ex-player Jeff Halpern as new assistant coach

Lightning names ex-player Jeff Halpern as new assistant coach

The Lightning has filled one of the openings on Jon Cooper's coaching staff, announcing Friday  that former Tampa Bay forward Jeff Halpern has been hired as an assistant coach.Halpern, 42, has spent the past two seasons as an assistant with the ...
Published: 06/22/18