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Pre-Majors waste opportunities

It's tough for Jeff Laing to decide what was harder to take: the errors or the runners left on base.

Separately, they were harmful. Together, they formed a noxious mix _ enough to erase his Hernando Youth League Dixie Pre-Majors (15-16) team from the state tournament in two games over the weekend in Bonifay.

HYL left 23 runners on base in the games, and six of seven runs allowed were unearned. The last was especially costly in a 5-4 loss to Tom Brown on Saturday, when first baseman Alex Hensley's throwing error allowed the winning run to score in the bottom of the eighth. Marianna scored two unearned runs off Brad Wyatt on Sunday in a 2-1 victory that eliminated Hernando.

"I thought we would have the pitching," Laing said. "We knew going in the hitting would be suspect, and it came back to bite us. We had runners in scoring position the whole time _ second and third, no out and can't score _ and more than anything, that hurt us."

HYL took a 4-3 lead into the seventh inning against Tom Brown, the Tallahassee champion, but two errors allowed the tying run home against reliever Willie Fifer. He took the loss despite surrendering no hits and two unearned runs in 2 innings.

"We had a couple of bright spots: Watson, Fifer, Ryan Cook were all hitting for us," Laing said. "But we could not get that key hit, and we were unable to hit in key situations."

MAJORS: The Dixie League world champion HYL Majors (17-18) squad continued play Monday in the loser's bracket of the state tournament in Sebring.

After being rained out Saturday, Hernando lost 2-1 to Milton on Sunday as Patrick Ryan took the loss. Later in the afternoon, HYL stayed alive in the double-elimination event as Jason Dunn pitched the team to a 5-4 win over Highlands County. Hernando was to play Suwanee County on Monday.

Staff writer Brant James can be reached at (800) 333-7505, ext. 1430. Send e-mail to brantsptimes.com.

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