Lakewood was red-hot coming into Friday's 5A-12 district final. The Spartans had just come off a seventh-inning comeback victory over Boca Ciega.
Against Dunedin, Lakewood got a run off a blooper that dropped fair from Donovan Pink then a fielding error let another run across and the Spartans were up 2-1 and the scent of upset was in the air again.
However, the Falcons proved timely hitting and defense win more often than magic as they got three runs back in the fourth then four in the sixth for an 8-2 victory. The Falcons won the title in their second year in their new District 12. They stay will host Robinson while Lakewood has the unenviable task of traveling to Jesuit.
"Those (Jesuit and Robinson) are both good teams; we went down and watched them last night," Falcons coach Tom Hilbert said. "No matter who you have, you'll have to play a quality game or you won't play one next week."
Switch-hitter Aaron Chesson, who pitches and has three home runs right-handed, batted lefty Friday night and got things touched off for Dunedin. Chesson tripled to right-center and eventually scored, stretched another hit to right-center into a double and scored again, then came up in the sixth a smacked a bases-clearing triple down the first-base line that all but put away the game.
Falcons starting pitcher Alex Hart made sure it stayed away. Hart went the complete seven innings and gave up only one earned run on four hits. He caught a liner hit right at him with runners at the corners and two out in the fifth then etched three of his four strikeouts in the sixth and seventh innings to help set down the Spartans in order each one inning.
"He (Hart) wanted it, he wanted to finish. I'm sure he was just throwing on adrenaline by then," Hibbert said. "I just couldn't take him out."
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3A-9: Pitching lifts Marauders
Clearwater Central Catholic is headed back to regionals, as the Marauders blanked Calvary Christian 4-0 to win the 3A-9 title.
Starting pitcher Mike Del Monte held the Warriors to just three hits. He got into some trouble in the sixth, when consecutive errors and a single by Matt Piatt loaded the bases with one out. But Del Monte struck out the next batter and got Grant McDaniel to fly out.
Calvary Christian (21-7) started the seventh inning strong, as Del Monte hit the first batter of the inning, and Johnnie Schneider singled. Tyler Simmons came in to relieve and struck out Noah Brunk. The Marauders secured the win when the next two batters popped out and flied out.
"Mike threw well start to finish," said CCC coach Todd Vaughan. "We played outstanding defense and got some clutch hits."
David Paul, who pitched a three-hitter in Wednesday's semifinal win over Northside Christian, had two doubles Friday. His double in the bottom of the third gave CCC a 2-0 lead. Andrew Murphy then singled later in the inning with the bases loaded to drive in two more runs.
Anthony Salveggi, Times correspondent