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Eustis nips Verot to claim 3A title

EUSTIS 3, BISHOP VEROT 2: The Panthers score twice in the fifth _ exactly like Matt Armstrong said _ to defeat the Vikings.

Eustis won its first state title 3-2 over Bishop Verot _ just the way Panthers senior catcher Matt Armstrong dreamed it up.

"Earlier on in the season," Armstrong said, "I had a dream that we'd tie the state championship game with a home run in the fifth inning."

Trailing 2-1 and hitless through four innings, Panthers starting pitcher Jason Bornstein made good on Armstrong's premonition.

The Panthers (29-8) tied the score when Bornstein connected on the first pitch of the fifth, a high fastball that he deposited over the leftfield wall.

"I could see the pitch coming from a mile away," said Bornstein, who won a wager with the swing. "When the tournament started, I bet (assistant) coach (Paul) Niles that I could hit one into the pond (beyond the leftfield wall). And if I did, he said he'd go in and get it out of the water.

"After I hit that one, I looked at him and said, "You're going swimming.' It's definitely something I'll never forget."

Junior leftfielder Tony McCoy followed Bornstein with a base hit, advanced to third on David Burns' single and came around to score on a balk.

The game was a series of missed opportunities for Bishop Verot (25-12), which finished 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

It stranded nine men and twice left the bases loaded.

"We played our hearts out," Bishop Verot pitcher Ryan Wade said.

"But we didn't take advantage of the opportunities we had."