If every there was a game to beat Madeira Beach Post 273, this one was it for Safety Harbor Post 238 right-hander Matt Hanson.
After being outscored 26-0 by Post 273 in two previous games and with Madeira on the verge of clinching another conference championship on its home field, Hanson wanted to win desperately.
The University of Georgia-bound athlete went out and put together his strongest outing ever, throwing a four-hitter, striking out 10, walking one and leading Post 238 to a 2-1 extra-inning win over league-leading Post 273, preventing it from winning the conference title.
"Twice before, we were flat against them," said Hanson, who also will be leaving on Saturday to play in a Connie Mack League in Texas. "I wanted them badly tonight. I wanted to let everyone know that when we come to play we can beat them. It feels even better to beat them on their home turf when they could've won the division tonight."
But the victory didn't come easy.
With Hanson and B.
J. Leach locked in a pitchers' duel, Safety Harbor caught a break in the 10th inning when Vince Parisi lined a leadoff single to left-centerfield. After Dwayne Dempsey dumped a bloop single over the shortstop's head, Leach fanned the next two batters, setting the stage for Kris Maronpot.
Post 238 didn't need Maronpot, though, because Greg Jones' errant throw to third base trying to stop Parisi from stealing sailed wide and allowed him to come home with the eventual winning run.
"You gotta take advantage of any mistake they give you," Parisi said. "We were able to do that tonight."
Hanson, who plays in the infield most of the time, went the distance and even seemed more overpowering as the game wore on. He struck out two of the final three batters and retired 20 of the last 23 batters he faced. The only hit he allowed over the last seven innings was an infield single to Jason Herzog.
"After the first inning, he came to me and said they ain't going to score another run," Parisi said. "He just got in a groove."
The win spoiled a terrific performance by Leach (5-2). Leach went the distance, striking out 11, walking none and allowing six hits.
Madeira Beach (20-7, 13-2) can still clinch the conference tonight in a game against host Gulfport Post 125.