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Odessa connects for win

(ran PAS edition)

It was more like the game of the franchise than the game of the week.

Odessa Post 147 had never won a game in an American Legion Central Area Tournament before Thursday night's 6-0 victory over Winter Haven Post 8 at the University of Tampa's Sam Bailey Field.

Calvin Baisley, the only manager of the Land O'Lakes-based team in its four-year history, couldn't help but savor the milestone.

"That's our first win in an area tournament," he said with a broadening grin.

Showing no ill effects from an 11-day layoff, courtesy of Odessa's 15-8 regular season record and subsequent bye in the District 15 tournament, Baisley's hitters came out swinging. Nine batters stepped up to the plate in the top of the first inning when Odessa took a 3-0 lead on four hits.

Daniel Boyd followed Justin Martindale's leadoff single with a 375-foot blast over the right field fence. Then Bryan Babij singled and scored on his brother Todd's single.

The offensive outburst could have been even more damaging to Winter Haven, but Odessa left the bases loaded when Adam Shorts went down on strikes to end the inning.

"You could say we had the momentum," Baisley said.

Boyd (6-2) allowed only one hit, Todd String's single in the fourth, to earn the win. He shared the one-hit shutout with Matt McCleary, Kendall Antoine and Steven Howie. The four pitchers combined for nine strikeouts and four walks.

Besides hitting his third home run of the season, Boyd singled twice and reached on an error. He had three runs batted in and scored three times.

"Some nights, you see the ball a lot better and tonight was one of those nights for me," Boyd said. "It's sort of like the playoffs. You've just got to step it up another level."

Odessa added three runs to clinch it. Shorts scored on Boyd's single in the fourth, Rob Roberts had an RBI single in the sixth and Boyd raced home from third base on a wild pitch in the eighth.

Todd Babij and Brad Baisley each reached base three times. Todd Babij had a pair of singles and a walk, and Brad Baisley walked once and twice got on because of an error.

Winter Haven's defense had its share of problems, accounting for five errors.

The double-elimination series continues through Monday. Baisley figured it would take four or five wins to take the championship. Results of Odessa's later games were not available at press time, but will be reported in next Sunday's North of Tampa edition.