Haines City Repeats as Firecracker Champion
Sun. July 08, 2012 at 11:16 p.m. | By Polk Preps Staff
HAINES CITY'S MIKE OGDEN delivers a pitch to a Lake Region batter on Sunday. (Photo by RICK RUNION | THE LEDGER )
By JUSTIN KLINE
AUBURNDALE | The Haines City Hornets have done it again.
The top-seeded team at the Lake Region Firecracker Tournament defeated the Lake Region Thunder in the varsity championship game 9-1 at Lake Myrtle Sports Complex on Sunday afternoon to take home the trophy for the second year in a row.
The Thunder, who split their Saturday games, fired off two wins Sunday against George Jenkins' Gold squad to advance to the title game. They defeated the Eagles in the first game 8-1, but eked out a 3-2 10-inning victory to advance to play the Hornets.
All that action put Lake Region at a disadvantage against Haines City, who only needed to play one game in the morning.
"I wasn't here last year, so it's nice to win this year," Haines City coach Dave Schafer said. "Last year, I was on vacation and we won. This year, the coach from last year was on vacation, and we won again."
The game was scorless until the third inning when Haines City's Michael Branche drove in pinch-runner C.J. Rodriguez with an RBI single. The Hornets added two more runs in the fourth inning, as Brian Morales and Tommy Passerello hit back-to-back RBI singles to bring the score up to 3-0.
The Thunder appeared to get back on track in the bottom of the fourth, when Scott Campbell singled to send Jacob Kelley home and put a run on the scoreboard.
Haines City was too strong and well-rested.
By this time, Lake Region started to feel the effects of playing three straight games in extreme heat. The Hornets, who had only played once and were still on fresh legs, rocked Lake Region pitcher Jonathan Cooper to the tune of six runs to snatch the game away.
For Haines City, Dalton Scarborough pitched three innings and earned the win. Passerello had an excellent day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two RBI and a stolen base. Morales went 2-for-4 with one run scored and two RBI, one of which was a triple.
"We're very proud of our guys for battling as long as they could," Lake Region coach Bill Bullock said. "Haines City is solid, and I wish we could have played them in the second game. The kids played hard all day, and we're very fortunate to have been in the championship game."
8 a.m. (Varsity): Winter Haven 4, Haines City 4; George Jenkins (Green) 7, Fort Meade 4; McKeel 11, Bartow 6; Lake Gibson 19, Mulberry 1; Lake Region 8, George Jenkins (Gold) 1.
10:30 a.m. (JV): Kathleen 4, George Jenkins 1; Winter Haven 2, Haines City 0; Bartow 14, McKeel 4; Lake Region 6, Lake Gibson 2; Lake Region 3, George Jenkins (Gold) 2 (10 innings)
1 p.m.: Championship (Varsity) — Haines City 9, Lake Region 1. Championship (JV) — Lake Region 4, Winter Haven 3 (10 innings).