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Post 186 ends slide with 11-10 win in tournament

The Spring Hill Lookouts slid down a little further in the American Legion standings with a pair of losses last week _ 6-3 to Odessa Post 147 on Sunday and 8-7 to Dale Mabry Post 139 on Tuesday.

That brought Post 186's losing streak to six before it got back on the winning track with Friday's 11-10 win over St. Petersburg Post 14 in the opening round of the Veterans Memorial Tournament in Bradenton. Spring Hill (5-12) had a season-high 13 hits in that game.

"The kids were really up for this game and they pulled it out," head coach Manny Toro said from a Bradenton hotel on Friday. "They're up for this tournament. They know that college coaches and scouts are around here."

The tiebreaking run came in the sixth inning when Charlie Plaia bunted for a base hit, went to second on a throwing error, and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Plaia scored when St. Petersburg's second baseman snared Greg Coleman's line drive, but threw wildly to third on a double-play attempt.

The Lookouts took a 2-0 lead in the first on run-scoring singles by Luke Buettner and Greg Caraynoff. They added five runs in the third on Manny Toro Jr.'s two-run single and Jeff Cornett's three-run double.

Spring Hill is taking its lumps, something hardly unexpected for a first-year ballclub, according to assistant coach Frank Vitale.

"The competition is really tough," he said. "When you have a new program like this the kids don't know what to expect."

Plaia's game-winning run against St. Petersburg could have been his second of the week. He had a chance to put his team in front in the Odessa game with one swing of the bat. Trailing 6-3 in the eighth, the Lookouts loaded the bases and Plaia sent a deep fly ball to straightaway centerfield. Tim Crosby raced to the wall and robbed Plaia of a grand slam with a backhanded catch at the top of the wall.

Spring Hill's downfall against Dale Mabry was perhaps a result of too many innings. Backed by Danny Allison's two-run homer, Spring Hill took a 5-1 lead, then broke a 5-5 tie with two runs in the seventh. Post 139 won it with three in the eighth.

"If it was a seven-inning game like high school we would have won," Vitale moaned.

Unfortunately for the Lookouts in this case, American Legion games are nine innings.