Chobee tops Sebring

SEBRING - Okeechobee completed its two-game sweep over Highlands County teams in the Pitch Machine District All-Star tournament on Saturday with a 9-5 win over Sebring at Max Long recreational Complex. Okeechobee pounded out nine hits and Sebring committed six errors in the first three innings. "These kids came in and played scared," said Sebring Coach Bobby Green. "I don't know why because they play every week. This is the first time I've seen them play scared in over a year." Sebring went ahead 1-0 in the top of the first as Blaine Garza hit a single. stole second base, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a sacrifice fly to left field by Chance Casey.
Sebring's lead was short lived as Okeechobee took advantage of three errors and three base hits to score five runs in the bottom of the first. Enoch Busbin and Emery Coleman led off the inning by reaching base on errors. Xavier Hernandez, Orlando Arana and Leo Castellanos followed with consecutive singles. Hernandez drove in Busbin, Arana singled to drive in Coleman and Hernandez. Arana scored on a fielder's choice and another error allowed Castellanos to score for a 5-1 lead. Sebring cut that margin in half in the second inning as Kevin Rosario led off the inning with a single. He stole second and third base before being driven home on a two-out single by Herb Somers. Somers stole second base and raced home on a single by Daniel Lynch to make it 5-3. Sebring tied the score in the top of the third as they took advantage of a bunt single by Pedro Ranos to lead off the inning and two Okeechobee errors that resulted in two runs to tie the game at 5. Okeechobee answered in the bottom of the frame with four runs on five hits and three errors. Scoring for Okeechobee was highlighted by RBI singles by Hernandez and Clemons and a two-run single by Tucker Hargraves for a 9-5 lead. "They did not show up to play defense today," said Green. "This team does not make errors in a normal game. The last three innings is the way they should play six." Just as the first three innings was an offensive slugfest as the two teams combined for 15 hits and the defenses combined for 9 errors, the last three innings was the exact opposite. It became a game of near defensive perfection as neither team scored and neither team had a base hit. Near perfection until the top of the sixth inning with two outs. Okeechobee committed two fielding errors that gave Sebring a slimmer of hope until a routine ground ball to the shortstop snuffed out any chance of a two-out rally and preserved the 9-5 win for Okeechobee. "This is a fun sport, we try to keep it fun," said Okeechobee Coach Johnny Tijerina. "If it isn't fun, there is no reason to be out here with the kids." It makes it even more fun when you win the first two games of a tournament and are in the championship game with no losses and only needing one more win for the title. With the loss, Sebring played Lake Placid on Sunday in an elimination game. The winner played Okeechobee in the championship game needing two wins. Results from Sunday's games were not available at press time. For the complete story and photos be sure to read Tuesday's Highlands Today.