The Crystal River Pirates are three wins away from a championship after sweeping their first two rounds in the Dixie League Majors (17-18) State Tournament.
Crystal River parlayed a one-hit shutout from Jimmy Metz into a 4-0 victory over host Highlands County in its opening game Sunday in Sebring, then used a nine-run, sixth-inning outburst to defeat Milton County 18-4 in the nightcap.
The Pirates will play the winner of Monday's game between Lake Region and Suwannee County today at 7 p.m. A victory will put Crystal River within two wins of a title and automatic berth in the World Series.
The Pirates and Milton County battled for the first five innings before Crystal River broke through in the sixth behind a home run and triple from Clayton Trenary (4-for-4, 2 triples), a triple from Jon Runnels and a double from Marcus Galvan.
Pitchers Bobby Stack (4 innings), Matt Maggiore (2) and Ryan Lindeman (1) combined for the win.
PRE-MAJORS: The Crystal River Buccaneers fell into the losers bracket of the Dixie League (15-16) tournament after dropping a 5-4 decision to host Bonifay on Sunday.
Crystal River will play the winner of Monday's contest between Marianna and Sebring in an elimination game today at 1 p.m.
Pitchers Zack Cole and Caleb Goodman combined to give up 4 runs on 5 hits in the loss. William Bunch tripled and drove in two runs for the Bucs after pitching a one-hit, nine-strikeout shutout Saturday.
_ CAREY FREEMAN