Local Sports

AP handles Havana

SEBRING - A game that started in the afternoon sun wouldn't wrap up until the teams were playing against the backdrop of a full moon. But a lengthy weather delay wasn't enough to deter Avon Park's offense, as the team bounced back after a tough loss to trounce Havana 18-5 in five innings on Monday evening at Max Long Complex to stave off elimination in the Dixie Boys (ages 13-14) State Tournament. The win set up another elimination game today against Wildwood. Results were not available at press time. "We came out and played our game," Avon Park coach Abe Cervera said. "I figured these kids were frustrated...and I knew it was going to be a big, breakout game." Tinkering with the lineup paid off handsomely, as Avon Park cycled through its line up in the first inning, Avon Park got off to a hot start thanks to a slew of errors from Havana to score five runs.
After Havana scored two runs in the bottom of the first, Avon Park countered with four more runs in the top of the second to take a 9-2 lead. The team held Havana scoreless in the bottom of the second, but their momentum was interrupted when a heavy stormed rolled in. Almost two hours later, both teams were back on the diamond and ready to start the third inning. Jacques Gordon lead-off for Avon Park, smashing a pitch onto the warning track for a stand up double. After advancing to third on a wild pitch, Gordon scored when Havana's pitcher balked. Now with a comfortable lead, Cervera decided to make a pitching change, bringing in Javier Maldonado for Derrick Hawthorne. However, Havana park would score without even putting the ball in play, as Maldonado walked in two runs with the bases loaded. But Avon Park countered with more runs again in the top of the fourth. Paced by Adarius Council's home run and John-Carlos Semprit's RBI double, Avon Park scored eight runs to take a commanding 13 run lead. "He (Council) got one," said a beaming Cervera. "He hit one out of the park, what else can I cay." In the bottom of the fifth, Havana started to cut into the lead when it scored another run to make it 18-5. With only one out, Havana continued to threaten as hitters reached on a handful of errant pitches. But Anthony Torres would make the defensive highlight of the evening, sacrificing his body - and uniform no less - to stretch for a speedy ground ball near second base, where he promptly transferred the ball to make the throw to first base and get the double play to end the game. "They were hungry," Cervera said. "I wasn't worried about the rain delay. We put the ball in play and stole some bases - that's our game. It was a big bounce-back win." bhoward@highlandstoday.com 863-386-5841