SEBRING - If you're a fan of high scoring baseball, T-ball is for you.
Sebring mashed Hardee 21-7 in five innings in the opening round of the Dixie Youth T-ball (ages 5 to 6) district tournament Friday morning at Max Long Complex. Now in the winner's bracket, Sebring will face West Seminole American today at 4 p.m.
"We started off strong," said Sebring coach Toby Taylor after the game. "We just told the kids to stay on them and don't let up."
The boys in blue opened the game with three straight singles, and scored their first run of the game when Steven Santos brought home Chase Vaughn with an RBI ground out. Sebring would put up six more runs in the inning, largely on the strength of singles, to take a commanding 7-0 lead.
In the bottom of the first, Hardee got on the board after Bronson Baughman scored on a wild throw. Shawn Rimes then belted a single to bring home another run to make it 7-2 and it looked like Hardee might make a game out of it.
But Sebring's offense continued to roll. In the top of the second, Sebring added five more runs, highlighted by Damian Silva's two-run double.
"We've got some players who can hit the ball," Taylor said. "And we've also got some kids who can make great contact. But they can run and they're aware."
With Sebring up 13-4 to start the fourth inning, Hardee appeared to be making a comeback when Jerimiah Cabrera smashed a lead-off triple. After Silva flew out to second base, Rimes brought home Cabrera to cut the deficit to eight runs. Samuel Braxton brought home another run and Benjamin Trevino beat out an infield dribbler to bring in another run.
Now only up six runs, Sebring wasted little time before walloping Hardee for eigth runs to end the game on mercy rules. Jacob Taylor grounded out to start the top of the fifth, but it was just the calm before the storm. Sebring belted four straight singles and scored two more runs before Vaughn blasted a two-run triple to make it 17-7.
After Kale Martz brought in run number 18, Santos had the highlight of the afternoon, bringing in three runs on an inside the park homer to make it 21-7 and end the game on account of mercy rules.
"Our staff does a really good job," Taylor said. "They're a well coached group of kids."
And it's the same on defense. While Sebring did allow seven runs, coach Taylor said he's fine with a team chipping away, but not giving up a big inning.
"I told them, 'a single is OK, but just make sure the guys in the outfield don't let it get behind you,'" he said. "We preach to them, 'do it right,' and that way, they learn to make all the right defensive plays correctly. And if they have a mistake, they can fix it here instead of at the next level."