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LOL sets up Ram showdown

Ridgewood coach Larry Beets doesn't buy the old saying that it's tough to beat a team three times in one season.

"It's tough enough to beat anybody one time if they've got a good ballclub," he said.

With that, Beets put the onus on Land O'Lakes, which the Rams have beaten 5-2 and 5-4 this season and will meet at 7:30 tonight in the semifinals of the Class 5A, District 8 tournament at Ridgewood.

Land O'Lakes (21-8) got a 13-2 victory over River Ridge (5-19) in the first round Tuesday. The game was called after 4{ innings because of the 10-run rule.

Springstead used an 11-run fifth to score a 12-2 victory over Gulf (6-23). The game was also stopped by the 10-run rule.

The Eagles (17-11) face Tarpon Springs, a 1-0 winner over Sickles, at 4 p.m. today.

The most attractive game is easily Ridgewood-Land O'Lakes. The Rams (22-6), who got a first-round bye as the top seeds, are No. 9 in Class 5A and No. 5 in the Times Tampa Bay Top 10. Land O'Lakes' rankings are 11 and 7.

"It's too bad we couldn't meet in the (district) finals," Beets said.

Ridgewood will throw right-handed ace Mike Rabelo (9-0). Land O'Lakes will start right-hander Matt McCleary (6-2). No. 1 starter Brad Baisley (8-3) is available after throwing just three innings Tuesday.

Both McCleary and Baisley have lost to Ridgewood this season, which brings up that three-win thing again.

"It's probably true," Land O'Lakes coach Cal Baisley said. "It doesn't mean it can't be done, especially with two evenly-matched teams. Hopefully, we'll play a good game. Hopefully, they will have to play a good game to beat us."

Land O'Lakes didn't have to do much Tuesday. River Ridge made seven errors and gave up 10 hits.

Andy Whitten and Steve McRae each had two hits and two RBI.

McCleary also knocked in two runs, and Brock Hierlmeier hit a three-run home run to make the score 13-2 in the third.

Tim Decubellis had two of River Ridge's four hits, including a solo home run.

Gulf took a 2-1 lead on John Kreidler's solo home run in the third inning.

But Springstead exploded for 11 runs on seven hits in the fifth to end the game.

For Springstead, Nick Duprey went 3-for-4 on the day with a triple and three RBI. John Grice had a double and a triple and three RBI. Bobby Sindelar had two hits and two RBI, and winning pitcher Matt Bolin (5-1) tossed a five-hitter.

"If we stay focused, we can definitely compete in this tournament," Springstead coach Tony Zefiretto said. "On any given day, anything can happen."

4A-7: McAlister hot as

Pirates blank Lecanto

DUNNELLON _ Crystal River first baseman Jarrod McAlister went 4-for-4, including two doubles and three RBI, to lead the Pirates to a 10-0, six-inning win over Lecanto in the opening game of the tournament Tuesday night at Dunnellon.

The Pirates (10-17) ended Lecanto's season and advanced to today's 4 p.m. game against top-seeded Citrus.

"I'm happy we got out with a win," McAlister said. "It was one of my best efforts of the season offensively. Defensively, I was a little shaky, but I think my offense helped make up for it."

Crystal River led 1-0 after the first inning and essentially sealed the in with a three-run fourth inning in which Chris Cole, Cody Hampton and Bobby Stack scored.

Things started badly for Lecanto and just got worse. In the second inning, starting pitcher Matt Kirchner injured his leg while running to second base and was forced to move to third base. Joe Hann took over on the mound.

Later, catcher Chris Gayheart was injured and had to leave the game when he collided with a sliding Hampton on a play at home.

Crystal River closed the game with a five-run sixth inning. After Stack and Bruce Bellamy got on base via Lecanto errors, Johnathan Sullivan singled with a bunt.

Then Hampton, who had several outstanding defensive plays, hit a two-run double. Three plays later, Tom Dorwart's single scored the 10th run, invoking the mercy rule.

"The last two or three weeks we've started to hit better and when Travis is pitching we are usually in the ballgame," Pirates coach Jere DeFoor said. "Defense, pitching and hitting the ball. That's three good things right there we had tonight."