Plant City is trying to become the first Suncoast team since 2008 to represent the Southeast Region in the Little League World Series. After its performance Friday, the club looks like a contender.
With 877 fans looking on, Plant City easily eclipsed Alabama representative Beehive 13-0 in the Little League Southeast Region Tournament in Warner Robins, Ga.
Starting pitcher Tavaris Gayner shut down Beehive for 42/3 innings, allowing only two hits and striking out six. He left with the score 2-0, relieved by Cody Ginther (11/3 innings, one strikeout, one hit).
Plant City (11-1) looked tenuous at the plate early, but the sixth inning was a different story. The team almost batted around two times, scoring 11 runs, all against Alabama reliever Reid Whitaker.
The spark plug for the Hillsborough County squad all afternoon was leadoff hitter Benji Hidalgo. The speedy centerfielder scored both runs before the big sixth inning and finished 4-for-5 with a double, a triple and three runs.
Every member of the Plant City lineup reached base at least once. Shortstop Christian Laird (1-for-4, walk, run) led with three RBIs.
No Florida team has won the Little League World Series. Plant City continues its quest at 10 this morning when the team faces defending region champion and host Warner Robins.
LITTLE LEAGUE SENIOR BASEBALL: Largo did not have the same kind of success in its opener of the Senior Baseball Southern Region in Melbourne.
The Pinellas County club fell 6-2 in the first game of pool play against Hart County, Ga.
Largo (10-2) is trying to become the first Suncoast team to represent the region since Dade City in 2004. In the 41 years of the Little League Senior (ages 13-16) World Series, Florida has won the title six times, but the last Suncoast team to take the crown was Palm Harbor in 2001.
Largo faces Myrtle Grove Optimist, N.C., at 9:30 this morning in the second game of pool play.
On the Web
Have a question for one of our prep writers? Want to sound off in response to one of our writers' blog posts? Check out nightly scoreboards for all sports? For this and more, visit tampabay.com/hometeam.