Seven times since the second round of the Section 3 All-Star Tournament, Bayshore/Palma Ceia's Junior Baseball team faced elimination. And won.
The final, and most important, time came Wednesday in Vero Beach. In the state championship game against Callahan, Palma Ceia won 4-2.
"They've been through this before," said Palma Ceia coach Dean Sentlingar, whose team also advanced out of the losers bracket at the District 6 tournament. "They weren't fazed by the pressure."
And Palma Ceia's performance showed it.
A.J. Salhanick scattered three hits over seven innings and struck out 10, including the final three batters in the bottom of the seventh.
He helped himself at the plate, too, banging a two-run double in the first. He drove in Steven Sentlingar, who had an RBI double to start the scoring, as Palma Ceia took a 3-0 lead in the first. Sentlingar also scored in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Brian Brownrigg.
In its 30-year history, this is Palma Ceia's first state title in any age group. It begins play at the Southern Regional in Cartersville, Ga., about 35 miles northwest of Atlanta, on Saturday.
Not so fortunate was Tampa Bay's Major Softball team, which lost its title game to Greater Venice 11-2. Tampa Bay spotted Naples eight runs in the first two innings and couldn't recover. Megan Menard went 3-for-3, accounting for half of Tampa Bay's hits.
AAU: The Tampa Tarpons 11-and-under team won twice to qualify for the single-elimination phase of the national tournament at Disney World.
Tampa defeated Rockingham Valley, N.C., 4-3 as Josh Wittcoff had a two-run home run and Chris Duffy also homered. The Tarpons also defeated the Tucson (Ariz.) Wildcats 4-1 as Duffy threw a one-hitter, struck out nine and doubled for one of four Tarpon hits.
Tampa plays a wild-card game against Hawaii at 8 a.m. today. The winner goes to the quarterfinals at 11 a.m. against the Orange County (Calif.) Storm.