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Paradise, Odessa keep up their near-.500 pace

Pasco County's two American Legion baseball teams are past the midpoint of their seasons, and both are hovering around the .500 mark.

Paradise Post 79 (9-11) snapped a four-game losing streak by winning two of three games last week, and resurgent Odessa Post 147 (7-8) has won four of its last six games, including three straight.

"We're still shooting for .500," Post 79 coach Ken Courter said.

"It's been an uphill battle," Post 147 coach Calvin Baisley said.

Following two rainouts last weekend, Paradise beat Dunedin Post 275 8-2 on Wednesday. On Thursday, Post 79 split a doubleheader with Clearwater Post 7, dropping the first game 8-4 and winning the second 7-2.

"With our team, it's hard to know when they're going to play," Courter said. "It's not that our kids don't have the talent. They just don't (always) get up."

T.J. Tucker had three hits and three RBI to fuel the offense against Dunedin. Brian Sullivan and Tony Sasso each added two hits, and David Draksler (3-2) pitched seven innings to earn the win.

Paradise managed just six hits in the loss to Clearwater, with Jason Abeles (0-3) taking the loss.

Kevin Abrams (3-2) went the distance to win the second game in seven innings. Brooks Derousie had two hits, including a triple, and two RBI in that contest. Sullivan and Tucker, who also tripled, added two hits apiece.

Courter said the bottom half of his lineup has to get untracked since most of the team's offensive production comes from the top of the order. But the coach is pleased with his pitchers of late.

"Draksler and Abrams can keep us in ballgames," Courter said.

King Post 334 nipped Odessa 8-7 on Wednesday in 10 innings. That left Post 147 at 0-2 in extra-inning games and snapped a three-game winning streak.

Odessa defeated Spring Hill Post 186 6-3 and Plant City Post 126 10-1, but the biggest victory came in the second game of a doubleheader against Tampa Post 248. That 7-5 win marked the first time Odessa had ever beaten Post 248.

"That was a big win. They were undefeated," Baisley said.

Kevin Russo and Justin Martindale, called up from Post 147's B team, each had two RBI in that game.

Danny Boyd pitched a three-hitter to beat Spring Hill and centerfielder Tim Crosby reached over the wall to rob Charlie Plaia of a grand slam. That preserved Odessa's three-run lead.

Due to a lack of outfielders, Baisley has been forced to use Crosby, a pitcher-infielder, in center.

"I consider him an outfielder," the coach said.

Matt Newcomer, who has a team-high .531 batting average, went 3-for-4 and had a two-run double in that contest.

Newcomer topped that a game earlier by going 4-for-4 with four RBI and pitching a two-hitter against Plant City.

"We're getting good pitching and we've got some guys pounding the ball," Baisley said.

Boyd's five home runs and 22 RBI lead Post 147. He also is hitting .421. Crosby has a .346 average and is followed by Rob Roberts, who is batting .333 with three homers and 11 RBI.

Up next:BIRTHS

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