With a chance to automatically advance to the state tournament on the line, the Spring Hill National AAA Minors (age 9-10) All-Stars came up with a clutch victory on Thursday.
SH National trounced San Antonio, 15-2, on the final day of the District 6 Tournament held at Kenny Dixon Sports Complex in Bushnell, assuring a trip to states, which begins July 16 in Sebring.
“The kids came to play,” SH National head coach Larry Marsh said. “They were all excited when we told them they were playing for runner-up.”
Technically, South Lake finished second in the tournament, losing to unbeaten Bushnell American in the championship game, 16-1. However, due to the smaller size of its league, South Lake will play in the B Division at states.
That afforded SH National another opportunity despite suffering its second loss on Wednesday, falling to South Lake, 12-1.
Previously, SH National won its opener on June 11 against Spring Hill American, 14-10, then lost to Bushnell American, 17-1, the next day. The local crew bounced back to thump North Tampa, 24-2, on Monday, and Brooksville on Tuesday, 15-5.
Against San Antonio, SH National received a huge performance out of Tristan King, as he totaled seven runs batted in. Brendan Anderson added a home run, and Ryder Tyszko tossed a complete game.
There were other standouts along the way. Marsh estimated that Shawn Hicks drove in eight or nine runs, while Cody Bishop, Connor McAfee, Alex Rodriguez and Vinny Pasarela produced at the plate. When not on the mound, Tyszko provided steady defense behind the plate.
Coach Marsh additionally praised the parents of his players, and also the sportsmanship of Nathan Marsh, who visited an opposing third baseman in the hospital after hitting the groundball that struck him in the face.
“We know we need to get better,” Coach Marsh said. “We’ve got great bats. We’ve got stellar pitching. We just made a lot of errors and that’s what we need to work on.
“We’re going (to states) to win. I know there’s some real good teams out there, but listen, we have a good team. If my kids come ready to play, we can give anybody trouble.”
Also in the district tournament, SH American went 0-2, with the loss to SH National preceding one versus Wesley Chapel National on June 12, 8-7.
Brooksville started with a 9-5 win over Wesley Chapel American on June 11, then lost to South Lake the following day, 18-2, and downed Ridge Manor on Monday, 15-4, prior to being eliminated by SH National. Ridge Manor finished up 0-2, having lost to San Antonio on June 12, 16-6.
Follow Chris Bernhardt Jr. on Twitter @cpbernhardtjr.