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Fourth-inning flurry puts Florida down for the count

San Marcos, Texas defeats the Cape Coral representatives 6-3 to drop Florida into the losers bracket.

It was like a pair of heavyweight boxers punching it out for Little League supremacy.

Fighting out of the blue corner was the Texas state champions from San Marcos. And wearing the red trunks were the local favorites from Coral Springs.

Texas boasted a team of 11- and 12-year-olds that went through its state tournament with a 14-2 record, with six wins by shutout.

None of the 12 other teams in the Southern Regional posted more zeros, and none had a pitcher like Ernest Lozano, who entered Tuesday night's title fight with a 7-0 record.

On the other side, Coral Springs stood tall with a tournament-best 15 wins. It began the night having outscored its opponents 125-24.

After three innings it looked as if Coral Springs American Red might have a shot at holding on for a 1-0 decision.

But the Greater San Marcos Little League delivered the knockout punch in the fourth inning and went on to a 6-3 victory in the opening game of the Section II Southern Regional tournament for both teams.

Texas batted around in the fourth and scored four runs. Bases-loaded singles from Michael Maldonado and Noel Juarez accounted for three of them.

Defensive replacement Alex TeGrothenhuis drove in Simon Guardiola for the final run of the inning.

"They hit the ball," Coral Springs manager Kim Satterfield said.

And the Florida all-stars didn't. Coral Springs got two singles from Billy Standidge to account for all of its offense.

Despite not hitting the ball, Florida held a 1-0 lead. D.J. Polistina led off the bottom of the first by reaching on a three-base error and scored on a Lozano wild pitch.

"That pitcher was a little wild, but he was dominating," Satterfield said.

Lozano overcame five wild pitches with his blazing fastball. Throwing consistently in the 70-75 mph range, Lozano struck out 10 Coral Springs batters.

Gary Pierpont Jr. took his first loss in six decisions but looked strong in the early going. He struck out five of the first seven batters he faced and finished with nine Ks. But the second time through the Texas order, he was not as fortunate.

"They haven't seen pitching since Thursday," Texas coach Joe Pina said of his players. "The second time around was better."

Florida falls into the losers bracket and faces Mississippi in an elimination game at 7 tonight.

North Carolina awaits the winner of today's 1 p.m. game between Texas and West Virginia in the winners bracket. The team from Kernersville, N.C., defeated Louisiana 2-1 on the heels of a close play at first base.

In Section I of the bracket, Alabama handed Georgia a two-hit shutout and won 7-0. Phenix City, Ala., will play Tennessee, a 4-3 winner over South Carolina, on Thursday in Section I winners bracket action.

The Section I and Section II winners face off for the regional title on Tuesday.

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