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Tarpons rebound to earn third at AAU nationals

The Tampa Tarpons finished third in the 42-team field as the AAU 11-and-under national championships ended Friday at Lake Buena Vista.

The Tarpons, who went 8-2 in the tournament, lost in the semifinals to the Jacksonville Vipers, 5-3. The Tarpons got a homer from Andrew Fie and two hits each from Josh Witcoff and John Arata but stranded 11 runners.

The Tarpons recovered to win the third-place game, 10-7 over the Georgia Stars. Arata hit a grand slam, and Witcoff and Orlando Bacon had three hits each.

Two defensive plays _ a game-ending unassisted double play by Jonathan Phin and an over the shoulder, fence-crashing catch by Dominic Murray _ also helped the Tarpons claim third.

"It was a hard task to keep the guys focused (after losing the semifinal)," Tarpons coach Ken Witcoff said.

"It was a team effort, and everybody contributed. The lack of selfishness was the key to success."

Tarpons Ryan McCurdy, Ryan Wegman and Chris Duffy were named to the AAU all-national team.

10-AND-UNDER: The St. Petersburg Stingers play in the AAU national championship game at 1 p.m. today. St. Petersburg has won all eight of its games in the tournament, outscoring the opposition 90-12.