If this summer is any indication, Dunedin's baseball program is in good hands (and arms) for the next few years.
The Dunedin American Legion B team, made up of high school players, went 4-0 at the Southeast Regional tournament at Lakewood Ranch last week, earning a berth in the state tournament. Dunedin opens the eight-team, double-elimination tournament tonight against host Lake Region.
"You win with pitching and defense and that's what we've been doing all summer," said Dunedin coach Tom Hilbert, whose team is 19-3. "We didn't really score that many runs (at the regional tournament), but we really didn't have to."
That's because the pitching was outstanding. Right-hander Mike Barbara, a senior, pitched nine innings in four games, allowing two hits. He had 18 strikeouts and earned a win and a save. Barbara was 7-0 in the regular season and will be a big part of the Falcons' pitching staff next spring.
Ricky Rogers, a sophomore, pitched 10 shutout innings, striking out 13 in the tournament. Sophomore Kyle Mills earned a win in five innings of work and allowed only one run. And junior Dustin Skinner had two saves.
Dunedin allowed six runs in the four games. It defeated Lemon Bay 3-1 in the opener, St. Petersburg Catholic 4-2, host Lakewood Ranch 2-1 in the first game and 6-2 in the championship game.
Joey Angelberger (.455 in the tournament), Ryan Chaisson (.375) and Tim Bascom (.426 in two games) had the hot bats.
But it's not the bats Hilbert is worried about. He knows a state championship will be won with pitching and defense. In 23 games this season, Dunedin has allowed 32 runs.
"I'm really proud of the kids," Hilbert said. "It was a chance for a lot of these younger kids to show they could get it done. Now they've earned the right to play some more games, and the more experience you get the better."
POST 14 ROLLS: St. Petersburg Post 14 started well in the regional tournament Wednesday at the Raymond Naimoli complex with an 11-4 win over the Sarasota Baseball Club. John Stang earned the win to improve to 4-0. Post 14 improves to 16-7. The tournament continues through the weekend.
CLEARWATER AAU: The Tampa Bay Renegades 9-and-under team finished third at the AAU national tournament at Orlando's Disney Complex on July 12-20. The Renegades were 7-2 in the tournament, including a 3-2 win over Jupiter in the third-place game.
Zack Johnston, Casey Turgeon, Chris Frey and Joe Marcus Woods were key pitchers. Anthony Greco, Tyler Kellermann, Andrew Fisher, Brad Dunham and Eric Langevin led the offense.
_ RODNEY PAGE