(ran NTP edition)
Dale Mabry Post 139 exploded for a 19-7 win over Jesuit Post 152 Thursday night, and Odessa Post 147 followed that blowout by winning its first game in the Central Area Tournament, 6-0, over Winter Haven Post 8.
The American Legion playoff series continues through today with the title game set for 7 p.m. at the University of Tampa's Sam Bailey Field.
Dale Mabry, which lost last year's championship game to West Tampa Post 248, took a major step toward reaching the finals again by scoring 16 runs in the last three innings against Jesuit.
"We're looking to make a little comeback here with these guys," said Dale Mabry manager Pat Russo, who guided the team to a 17-6 record this season. "They all stay focused. I think we've got an opportunity to go pretty far."
Most of Russo's Legion players come from Plant High School, where Russo earned District 4 Coach of the Year honors this year. The same nucleus of players who led Plant to a 19-7 record in the spring can be found taking daily batting practice at Russo's Hitting Zone, located at 7815 N Dale Mabry Blvd.
The practice seems to be paying off.
Sean Quigley and Joe Parrino each smacked three-run homers against Jesuit. James McAuley added four hits, with Chris Horton, Steve Thomas and Parrino contributing three hits each.
Pitcher Glen Richardson, 5-1 during the regular season, earned the win.
In Thursday night's second game, Daniel Boyd sent a two-run homer over the right field fence to highlight Odessa's three-run first inning.
Boyd reached base in all five of his plate appearances, getting on via two singles, an error and a fielder's choice. He had three RBIs and scored three runs.
"Some nights, you see the ball a lot better, and tonight was one of those nights for me," Boyd said.
Boyd also started the game on the mound and improved to 6-2 by allowing one hit in four innings. He struck out three and walked three. Pitchers Matt McCleary, Kendall Antoine and Steven Howie shared the shutout.
Todd Babij had two hits, a walk and an RBI, and Rob Roberts added a run-scoring single for Odessa, playing in the Central Area Tournament for the second time in the team's four-year history.
SENIOR SOFTBALL: Northside was eliminated from the Section 3 tournament after a pair of one-run losses last week _ 9-8 to Orlando Conway and 12-11 to Bloomingdale. Both defeats came in the seventh inning.
In the loss to Orlando Conway, the lead changed hands four times with Northside going ahead 8-7 in the bottom of the sixth. Jen Sladky doubled, tripled and had four RBIs in that game, but three errors in the final inning led to Northside's undoing.
Northside again gave away two leads in the matchup with Bloomingdale. Kelly Wooles powered Northside by driving in two runs with a triple and a single.