LAKE PLACID — Twenty-one innings and one electrical storm later, District 8 finally had its top seed for the Dixie Boys (ages 13-14) state baseball tournament: the Lake Placid All-Stars.
The squad pummeled Okeechobee by a score of 11-2 on Thursday at the Lake June Ball Fields to win the best of three series and clinch the No. 1 seed for the state tournament.
“The momentum was with us,” said Lake Placid coach Randy Harris.
The state tournament starts July 19 in Sebring at the Max Long Complex. Since Sebring is hosting the tournament, it automatically qualified.
Despite securing the top seed for its bracket, Lake Placid won’t be afforded any breaks. But Harris has faith in his team.
“It means we’ll play the tougher teams,” Harris said. “We’ll have very tough competition. We have just a good a chance as anybody.”
Lake Placid will likely open the tournament against Hardee.
“In our bracket it’s Sebring, West Seminole, and Hardee,” Harris said. “We’ve only seen Sebring this year, but we could see Okeechobee again if we win through our bracket.”
Thursday’s game was the rubber match between Okeechobee and Lake Placid. Okeechobee won the series opener 9-8 in Okeechobee, but Lake Placid rebounded with a wild 16-15 win last Sunday at the Lake June Ball Fields.
Game 3 was originally slated as the nightcap of Sunday’s doubleheader, but it was postponed due to rain. Lake Placid wasn’t fazed by the time off though, and the squad came out slugging.
“We were still amped up on last weekend’s game,” Harris said. “I wasn’t concerned at all with losing any momentum.”
Katwan Ward’s two-run double punctuated a six-run inning for the team, and Lake Placid held a 6-0 lead in the early going.
Okeechobee finally got its offense going in the bottom of the fifth, but produced only two runs. Michael Warner’s Stellar play behind the plate helped snuff two critical Okeechobee scoring opportunities. Okeechobee loaded the bases twice, each time sending a runner barreling toward home plate. But on both occasions, Warner snagged lasers from the outfield just in time to turn and make the tag.
“Our hustle and backup play was very good today,” Harris said. “Without our guys backing each other up, a lot of those outs don’t happen.”
After trading zeros in the sixth, Lake Placid scored a few insurance runs to push its lead to 11-2. Tay Williams and Cody Jolley led the way, each belting RBIs.
Erskin Toliver closed the game for Lake Placid. After allowing two singles to open the bottom of the seventh, Toliver recovered to fan Okeechobee’s next two hitters. Okeechobee’s final hitter hit a would-be single through the infield, but Lake Placid’s defense recovered to secure the out at first base.