Dade City's Senior baseball 15-16 All-Stars played for a district title on their home field Tuesday night, adding another chapter to a longstanding local rivalry.
It's the sixth straight season this Dade City team has faced Plant City for the district title. Plant City won last season, but Dade City has won three of the past five meetings.
"It seems like every year since these boys were 9, every year I can remember we end up playing Plant City for the district championship," Dade City manager Dale Maggard said. "One of the moms from Plant City had pictures with her the other night, and it was the same kids playing each other all the way back in 9-10 ball."
Getting to Tuesday's game wasn't easy for Dade City, which edged Lake Wales 2-1 Saturday and beat Lakeland City 2-0 Sunday. Michael Onyskin pitched a complete game against Lake Wales, and Jimmy Hancock did the same against Lakeland.
"We've been real lucky," said Maggard, whose team got RBIs from Hancock and Zach Maggard in a two-run fifth against Lakeland. "They're having a lot of fun and playing great defense."
All six Dade City All-Star teams still were alive entering Tuesday's play, each hoping to move on to sectionals, which begin July 18.
MAJORS BASEBALL: Zephyrhills' bats propelled them to 27 runs in three wins, sending the 11-12 All-Stars to the district final four, which starts Thursday in Lake Wales.
"We've got some big hitters, for sure," manager Marty Monbarren said.
Zephyrhills was led by Alex Sampson, who hit three home runs and was 7-for-9 for the weekend.
Sampson's biggest hits came in an 8-6 win against Dade City on Sunday, when Zephyrhills rallied from a 6-0 deficit. Sampson hit a three-run shot to help Zephyrhills tie it in the fifth, then hit a two-run homer in the final inning to seal it. The power continued in an 8-3 win against Plant City National on Monday, when Josh Jackson hit a home run.
Zephyrhills got strong pitching as well _ Josh Debyah struck out nine in three innings Saturday against Polk City, and Austin Adams struck out 17 in a six-inning complete-game win against Plant City Community. Adams, who was 5-for-9 at the plate, also struck out three in one inning to finish off the win against Dade City.
Dade City's 11-12 All-Stars rebounded from the loss to Zephyrhills with a 10-2 win Monday against Lakeland City Tangerine, and they continued in the loser's bracket with a game Tuesday against Plant City Community.
Dade City opened the tournament with a 20-0 win against Plant City Community, so there's a good chance they can advance to play Plant City tonight for a spot in the district final four.
"We've had good hitting all up and down the lineup," manager Imani Asukile said. "Defensively, we're exceptionally strong in the outfield with our quickness. We haven't had much drop in on us out there."
JUNIORS BASEBALL: The Dade City and Zephyrhills 13-14 All-Stars were scheduled to play Tuesday night in Dade City after both teams won their first two games.
"It's a big grudge match, just because it's Dade City and Zephyrhills," said Louis Giella, whose team beat Dade City's league champion in the Tournament of Champions last month.
Dade City advanced with a 2-1 win against Lake Wales on Sunday and a 14-3 win against Bartow on Monday. Trailing 1-0 in the fifth, Dade City rallied to score twice, with Dakota Parker scoring on Todd Jeter's infield single and Jeter stealing second and scoring on a passed ball. Geoff Parker struck out seven for the complete-game win.
"We left the bases loaded twice, left about 10 runners on base," Giella said. "We just couldn't get the big hit, so Geoff Parker was the hero of the game."
They found their bats against Bartow, scoring seven in the first two innings. Julian Juarez and Stephen Roe each scored three times, Rey Perez had three hits and starter Dustin Brown gave up one earned run.
Tuesday's Dade City-Zephyrhills winner gets two nights off as winner's bracket champion and will play the team that emerges from the loser's bracket Friday. The winner's bracket champion needs one win in two chances to take the district championship and move on to sectionals in Gibsonton.
SOFTBALL: Dade City's 11-12 Majors and 13-14 Juniors won their first two games and played Tuesday, with a win advancing them to the district final four.
The Majors beat Zephyrhills 10-3 on Saturday and North Lakeland 7-1 on Sunday behind strong pitching. Megan Newsome struck out 12 and allowed one hit against Zephyrhills, and Kelsey Tate struck out eight while holding North Lakeland to three hits. Latasha Byrd had two hits Saturday and Jasmine Johnson hit an inside-the-park home run Sunday.
Dade City's 9-10 All-Stars split two games (including a 19-6 win against Zephyrhills) and played in the loser's bracket Tuesday. Courtney Brant was 3-for-4 against Zephyrhills and Vanessa Mills added two hits.