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Spongers claim first PCAC title

Tarpon Springs made a whirlwind out of its Pinellas County Athletic Conference North division championship, waiting for the last second to claim the crown. The Spongers watched as Brendan Fuller threw a five-inning no hitter at them Thursday night boosting Clearwater to an 11-0 win and creating a three-way tie along with Countryside for the division championship.

That game proved meaningless for Tarpon Springs, as it won the tie-breaker based on its regular season performance. The Spongers quickly wiped away memories of the game against the Tornadoes and focused on Friday's PCAC title game against Dixie Hollins.

With a twisting wind blowing out to leftfield, visiting Tarpon Springs drove three extra-base hits into that jet stream and made their 6-3 win look like a breeze. The victory marked the first PCAC championship in Tarpon Springs history.

Senior Pat Hudspeth started on the mound and left with a 4-3 lead in the fourth. In the top of the inning, he launched a two-run home run giving Tarpon Springs a 4-0 lead.

"I wanted to come out and win it for our ballclub," Hudspeth said. "I noticed the ball jumping. I tried to keep the ball down."

Hudspeth (6-4) forced Dixie Hollins into seven groundouts before giving way to Grant Abrams, who finished the job for the save. Abrams needed just three pitches to end the Rebel rally in the fourth. After that, he allowed just one hit and struck out six of the 11 batters he faced.

"I have to give credit to Grant," Dixie Hollins coach Jonathan Wiggins said. "He endures a lot of criticism from fans in this county. He is a good ballplayer."

Tarpon Springs (17-9) proved it is loaded with good players as every starter contributed to an offense that belted eight hits off losing pitcher Mike Smith. Jon Godwin hit a home run that hugged the third-base line in the fifth. Designated hitter Jamie Gonzalez broke open a scoreless game with a two-run double in the third, scoring Ryan Tecklenberg and Abrams.

"We played under our average of errors and that is what we asked them to do," Tarpon Springs coach Scott Decatur said. "I am happy for them."

Ray Searage provided the highlight for the Rebels (15-10) in the fourth. His single drove in David Bradbury and Joe Deese, bringing Dixie Hollins within one run.

BAY CONFERENCE: Bradenton Christian scored seven runs in the seventh inning to put the finishing touches on what had been a close game, and defeated Keswick Christian 13-3 for the Bay Conference title.

Rob Verigan's single scored Christian Osburn to give Keswick (11-7) a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Bradenton Christian (18-3) scored the next four runs, but Keswick responded with a pair of runs in the fourth. Verigan was hit by a pitch, Gabe Aluisy singled, Chuck Crosby singled to score Verigan and Luke Campbell singled to drive in Aluisy.