DUNEDIN — The championship game is set and it looks like a good one.
Undefeated Clearwater Central Catholic (15-0) will take on South County power Osceola (13-3) in a title game tentatively scheduled for Saturday night at 8.
CCC advanced with Thursday evening's 5-1 win over Inspiration Academy and Osceola held off tournament host Dunedin in the nightcap, 2-0.
Weather will determine when the 45th Annual Dunedin Spring Tournament crowns its newest champion. Dunedin coach Ron Sexton said that event organizers will monitor weather reports for Friday and Saturday, and that the game may be moved up to tomorrow night.
Spectators can go to www.DunedinBaseball.com to find up-to-date schedule information for the championship and other games still to be played.
GAME 1 (CCC v. Inspiration Academy)
Thursday's first semifinal saw CCC need to play a full seven innings for the first time this week.
The Marauders 10-runned both of their first two opponents by a combined score of 27-6 and nearly did the same to Bradenton's Inspiration Academy (14-4).
CCC was never truly threatened in its 5-1 win, though Lions pitchers and the Inspiration Academy defense did an admirable job of keeping the game within reach.
The Marauders recorded only five hits but benefitted from 11 free passes (10 walks and 1 hit-by-pitch) in picking up their five runs.
“We weren't the sharpest we've ever been but we got some timely hits and squared it up pretty good today,” CCC coach Todd Vaughan said. The one thing CCC didn't quite have on its side Thursday was good baseball luck. Marauders hitters sent a number of hard-hit balls directly at Lions fielders that put the brakes on multiple rallies.
Pitchers Tyler Simmons and Joe Messina didn't need their offense to be so lethal tonight, limiting Inspiration Academy to just four hits and four walks. Vaughan praised Simmons' quality five-inning spot start afterward.
“Him doing that and keeping us [from throwing] some of the other guys that we might have thrown tonight helps us out for Saturday.”
CCC scored two runs and broke a scoreless tie in the third inning by benefitting from three walks and stealing four bases.
The lead jumped to 4-0 in the fourth on David Paul's two-run basehit.
Paul turned in the game's lone two-hit night and pinch runner Jeffrey Smith stole four of CCC's seven bags.
Simmons improved to 2-0 on the mound this year and Messina recorded his third save to push CCC's perfect record to 15-0.
GAME 2 – (Dunedin v. Osceola)
Osceola's Keith Weisenberg typically receives plenty of attention when he takes the mound and it's not very often the 6-foot-4 righty fails to live up to expectations.
The Stanford commit and highly touted 2014 MLB Draft prospect rose to the occasion once again Friday night, blanking tournament-host Dunedin 2-0 and leading Osceola into the finals against CCC.
“Before the game I challenged myself to throw somewhere between 65-70 percent strikes,” Weisenberg said after his two-hit, nine-strikeout effort. “I was really trying to work ahead so I could do that. I think between the defense and my catching we were able to come close to that plan.”
Dunedin (10-6) managed to get just three runners on base Thursday night and none advanced farther that second. Leadoff hitter and shortstop Trevor Jenson accounted for two of those baserunning opportunities, going 1-for-2 with a walk.
“To face a pitcher like that and a kid that's probably going to get a paycheck to play baseball one day, and for us to experience that and to battle like we did, I think will benefit us in the long run,” said Dunedin coach Ron Sexton.
Not to be lost in the close ballgame was the performance of Falcons starter Aaron Turman.
The senior righty limited Osceola's potent offense to just two runs on six hits while not issuing a single walk.
“I knew they would be aggressive so I wanted to mix it up on first pitches,” Turman said of his approach to the game. “They showed that from the start. On the very first pitch they were aggressive.”
Both Warriors runs came home with two outs on softly hit fly balls that found open turf.
Osceola junior Joey Coca led Thursday's semifinal off with a base hit, moved to third on two groundouts and then came around to score when catcher Mike Kleinman lifted a base hit into shallow right field.
Nearly the same scenario played out in the fifth when Osceola (13-3) expanded its lead to 2-0. Luke Hains led off with a single into center, advanced to third via a sacrifice bunt and groundout to second, respectively, and touched home on Coca's fly ball that fell in right.
“Our approach we accomplished 100 percent,” Sexton said. “But it was just [Weisenberg's] night. He was just a little bit better than our guy. I was so happy for Turman to have his best outing, albeit in a loss. But he's a senior and just really rose to the occasion.”
Friday Loser's Bracket
Pinellas Park vs. River Ridge (5 p.m.) Field 5
Calvary vs. Canterbury (8 p.m.) Field 4
Friday Consolation Games
Lakewood vs. Tampa Bay Christian (5 p.m.) Field 3
Countryside vs. Tarpon Springs (8 p.m.) Field 3
Saturday 3rd Place Games
Dunedin vs. PP-RR Winner (5 p.m.)
Inspiration vs. Calvary-Canterbury Winner (5 p.m.)
CCC vs. Osceola (8 p.m.) Field 5
GAME 1 – BOX SCORE:
CCC - 002 201 0 --- 5-5-1
Insp - 000 100 0 --- 1-4-0
WP – Tyler Simmons (2-0)
LP – Craig Thomas (1-1)
S – Joe Messina (3)
Clearwater Central Catholic (15-0)
Tyler Simmons – W, 5.0 IP, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 H, 5 K, 4 BB – 0-for-3
David Paul – 2-for-4, 2 RBI, 1 R
Brenden Overton – 1-for-2, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 Sac Fly
Inspiration Academy (14-4)
Cesar Bernal – 1-for-3, 1 RBI
Kevin Rieke – ND, 1.2 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 2 K, 1 BB
Danny Contreras – 1-for-3, 1 2B
GAME 2 – BOX SCORE:
Osc - 100 010 0 --- 2-6-0
Dun - 000 000 0 --- 0-2-2
WP – Keith Weisenberg
LP – Aaron Turman (1-4)
Keith Weisenberg – W, 7.0 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 9 K, 1 BB – 0-for-3
Joey Coca – 2-for-3, 1 RBI, 1 R
Mike Kleinman – 1-for-3, 1 RBI
Aaron Turman – L, 7.0 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 6 H, 2 K, 0 BB – 0-for-3
Trevor Jensen – 1-for-2, 1 BB
Logan Jones – 1-for-3, 1 SB