Local Sports

Sebring takes Ozone title

SEBRING - After Lake Placid thumped Sebring 15-4 Wednesday night to force a winner-take-all rematch, Sebring returned the favor with a 10-0 walloping to clinch the Dixie Youth Ozone (ages 11-12) District 8 Championship at Max Long Complex on Thursday morning. Both teams will be moving on to the state tournament, which will be played in East Lakeland starting July 13. "Our game plan was to throw Josh (Rivera) three innings and then throw Dayvon (Terry) three innings," Sebring coach Anthony Gaines said after the game. "But once we got up by seven, we just decided to stick with Terry." The decision to keep Terry in the game paid off, as he pitched four shutout innings and scattered just a handful of hits.
"I planned to go all six innings, but my team spoiled it for me," Terry said, smiling. "They did a great job of protecting me out there." At the plate, meanwhile, Sebring was up to its usual tricks. After trading a scoreless first inning, Sebring's bats came alive in the top of the second. Danny Cardoso led off with a single, followed by Jacob Regino, who reached on a walk, and George Martinez brought both home with an RBI single. Sebring piled on three more to cap off a five-run inning. "It feels good to win," Sebring's Josh Rivera said. "Since we lost, we were motivated to go out and get this game today." Lake Placid had a chance to do some damage in the bottom of the second, but Max Long's "blue monster" got in the way. With a man on second, Kamari Brown sent a laser into the outfield, but it hit the extended wall out in right field and bounced back into play, resulting in a double. It would've been a home run if hit anywhere else in the park. Terry struck out the next two batters to finish the inning, and Lake Placid didn't threaten to score again. Highlighted by its small-ball strategy, Sebring had another productive plate appearance in the top of the fourth. After Terry and Luis Perez reached on back-to-back singles, Andrew Morris brought Terry home with a sacrifice bunt to give Sebring a 7-0 lead. Desmond Gaines belted an RBI single while Regino followed him by drawing a walk. Regino was followed by Andrew Smith's single to load the bases, and Hunter Vanderpool was hit by a pitch to walk in run number nine. Rivera blasted a pitch into the outfield, resulting in a sacrifice fly, to make it 10-0. Sebring's defense held in the bottom of the inning. Terry struck out Erskin Toliver for the first out. Quiuesmael Sholtz was hit by a foul ball out of the box for an automatic out and Ward popped out to end the game. "You can't take anything away from Lake Placid," Gaines said. "Cody Carpenter pitched a heck of a game last night. They threw a lot of off-speed. They had a good game plan." Gaines added that it doesn't hurt when you can rely on your pitcher to go the full distance, either. "I think maybe the rained helped us," he said. "Nobody likes to lose, but to go into a championship game knowing that you have Terry for a full six innings, you feel pretty good." A myriad of rainouts extended the district tournament nearly a full week, and tournament director Randy Harris was quick to thank parents and coaches for their dedication. "I just want to thank everyone for sticking with us over this last week," Harris said to a baseball diamond crowded with players and their families. "It means a lot to us for everyone to be out here every day through all of the cancels and delays. We couldn't do it without y'all."