Sarasota 14s All-Stars reach title game
By Jim Brockman
The All-Stars from Sarasota knew going in on Saturday that they would have to beat the same team twice. The same team that beat them on Friday.
Sarasota’s All-Stars left no doubt this time around, beating Julington Creek 5-1 and then 13-3 to claim the 13-year-old division of the Babe Ruth State Championship at Babe Ruth Park in Sarasota.
Leadoff hitter Sawyer Grantham set the tone for Sarasota on Saturday, as well as throughout the tournament. Grantham smacked the first pitch of the first game of the day to left field for a single and Sarasota was off and running.
Grantham would eventually score on an error for a 1-0 lead. Gannon Buzzett cracked a two-run double later in the first inning for a 3-0 lead.
Buzzett got the job done on the mound, as well. He worked five innings, allowing just one hit, an infield single in the first inning. He also fanned six batters and walked just one. Blake Norman picked up the save.
“Gannon Buzzett pitched phenomenal,” Sarasota manager Garth Lisman said. “Dylan McDonald was great on Friday and Logan Murphy got the job done in our second game today. We’ve had great starting pitching.
“We lost a 5-4 heartbreaker to these guys on Friday. But the kids came right back. They showed great intestinal fortitude.”
Shortstop Michael Cantalamessa and slugger Ayden Shkorupa collected three hits apiece in Saturday’s opener. One of Cantalamessa’s hits was a perfectly executed bunt and one of Shkorupa’s hits was a resounding triple off the right-center field wall. Murphy also had a pair of singles in the opener as Sarasota banged out 15 hits.
It was more of the same in the second game Saturday as Sarasota ended the title game by 10-run mercy rule in the fifth inning. Buzzett pounded a double and triple and McDonald also had a pair of hits for Sarasota.
Unlike in years past, winning this year’s state tournament will be the end of the line for championship teams. Champions in Sarasota will not move on to region tournaments and possibly the Babe Ruth World Series because those events were canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“It’s a shame this is as far as this team can go, because they could do some damage,” Lisman said. “It’s been great coaching these kids. The parents are great, as well.”
Meanwhile, the Sarasota 14s kept right on rolling to remain undefeated in the four-day tournament with their third straight win. After a pair of lopsided victories over Belleview and Fort Myers American on Friday, Sarasota came back to edge Fossil Park, 4-3, on Saturday.
The victory puts the 14s in the driver’s seat and today’s championship game. Sarasota will face the Fossil Park-Fort Myers American winner Sunday at 11:30 a.m.
Sarasota fell behind Fossil Park, 2-0, before rallying for the win. Sarasota manager Todd Williams got four solid innings from starter Matthew Page and reliever Dan Gable got the final out after the visitors loaded the bases in the seventh inning.
Cooper Middleton provided a key RBI base-hit and Max Soodek provided a crucial sacrifice fly for Sarasota.
Also on Saturday, Sarasota’s 15-year-old Stars won their second consecutive losers bracket game by bouncing Hamilton County from the tournament with an 8-3 victory.