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Palm Harbor Majors win title, make history

(ran LA edition of LT)

For the first time in its brief history, Palm Harbor National won the north division title in the District 12 Majors baseball Tournament of Champions Tuesday night.

Palm Harbor National did it the hard way, too.

Coming out of the losers bracket, Palm Harbor played five games in seven days and swept East Lake the past two nights, capping the run Tuesday with a 5-2 win.

"This is very exciting," Palm Harbor manager Rod Buckles said. "To come through like these kids have done is pretty thrilling for everyone."

Palm Harbor played south division champion Countryside for the overall championship on Wednesday night. If Palm Harbor National won, the two would play again tonight in Holiday at 7.

Wes Buckles led Palm Harbor,throwing a three-hitter and striking out eight.

He also provided offensive spark with a double, two singles and three RBI. His offense was key as East Lake decided to walk intentionally Palm Harbor National power hitter Cory Agar four straight times to pitch to Buckles.

"That was really key for us," Rod Buckles said. "But we mainly had three keys _ good pitching, good defense and timely hitting _ that helped lead us."

Matt Banas added two singles and a two-run homer in the sixth inning to break open the game.

Travis Ostrom aided the offense with two singles, and Mark Ennis played strong defense.

Seniors baseball (ages 13-15): Toby Evans singled, stole second, went to third on a passed ball and came home on a wild pitch as Dunedin National trimmed Clearwater National 4-3 in a winners bracket game Tuesday.

Dunedin National will play the winner of Wednesday's losers bracket final between West Pasco and Palm Harbor National on Friday at 7.

Ryan Van Winkle went the distance for Dunedin while striking out 15 and allowing five hits. Dunedin National rallied in the fourth inning behind key hits from Peter Nystrom, Ed Kofler and David Goldman.

Scott Halisky of Clearwater National also went the distance, striking out 15 and allowing six hits.

Juniors baseball (age 13): Greg Olsen and Mike Phillips combined on a four-hitter as Countryside upended Largo National 8-3 in a losers bracket game Tuesday night.

Trevor Hall had four hits to spark the offense, while Kevin Campbell, Geoff Peattie, Chris Turtzo, Anthony Duany and Chad Mele also contributed key hits.

Countryside played Palm Harbor National in a losers bracket final Wednesday night. The winner meets the winner of Wednesday's winners-bracket game between Safety Harbor and Dunedin National.

In other action, Nick Palazzolo's infield single scored Gerard Dauber with the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning as Palm Harbor National rallied from a 6-3 deficit to edge Clearwater American 7-6 in a losers-bracket game Tuesday night.

B.J. Nichols and Paul Francoeur had key defensive plays and key hits to help spark the rally. Chris Fama came on in relief and threw two scoreless innings for the winners.

Majors softball (ages 10-12): Safety Harbor came from behind in the seventh inning with two outs, scoring five runs en route to a 21-19 win over Palm Harbor American in a losers-bracket game Tuesday night.

Christine Sibson, Brooke Hartle, Johanna Dewberry and Gabe Haskins had key hits to spark the rally.

Earlier, Candice Ferrero, Hedi Heinien and Alison Gervasi kept Safety Harbor in the game.

Chrissy Sexton played strong defense, and Tracy Brown picked up her third win of the tournament. Jessica Ferrero scored three runs to boost the offense.

Seniors softball (ages 13-15): Kasey Dowd threw seven innings, allowed six hits, struck out 15 and gave up two earned runs as Countryside upended Dunedin American 12-7 in a losers-bracket game.

Liz Makofske, Shelly Pearl, Michelle Kunigonas and Michelle Molen had RBI singles.

To report Little League highlights, please contact Wayne McKnight at 893-8129 or 867-8743. You can also fax information to 893-8782 anytime during the week. The information must include specific highlights of games and important statistics. Please make sure all players' names are spelled correctly. To report scores only, please call 893-8201 and leave a message.