Buffalo Creek advances, Lakewood Ranch falls in Little League tournament

jdill@bradenton.comJuly 14, 2013 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Two teams were on the verge of history.

For one club, euphoria was met after a long day at Lakewood Ranch Little League in the Section IV All-Star Tournament on Saturday.

For the other, complete and utter heartbreak.

Consequently, Buffalo Creek's 10-11 team became the first team from its league to advance to the state tournament, while Lakewood Ranch's 9-10s came close before things unraveled quicker than a ball of yarn.

Both area clubs won their respective morning games that wrapped up in the middle of Saturday afternoon following a lengthy weather delay.

That set the stage for both teams to advance to the state tournament and write some history in the process.

Lakewood Ranch attempted to become the first team from its league to progress to the state tourney since the "Beasts from the East" were born at the then-Manatee East Little League in the late 1990s when it became the United States runner-up at the Little League World Series in Williamsport for 11-12 year olds.

However, Ranch fell short after plating five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to take a four-run lead. It evaporated as North Brandon's 9-10s scored seven times in the sixth inning and held Ranch off the scoreboard to win the sectional tournament 12-9.

"You always say the game is never over when its so close," Ranch manager John Schroeder said. "Down to the last out and all we needed was one, but couldn't pull it together. And then we had our chance at the plate, and it didn't go our way. I just feel really bad for the kids. We worked really hard. Unfortunately, you have to have a loser. But they battled and stayed together as a team. ... They left their hearts on the field, and I can't ask for anything more than that."

Stone Frishman (2-for-3, two runs, walk, stolen base), John Schroeder (double), Blake Wood (2-for-4, run, RBI) and Peter Balos (2-for-3, RBI, two runs, walk) led Ranch's hitting against North Brandon.

Meanwhile, Buffalo Creek was in the driver's seat after beginning pool play 2-0 while Lutz and North Brandon's 10-11s were each 1-1.

Buffalo Creek, though, started off poorly and faced a 7-0 deficit after two innings.

But just like it did Friday night and Saturday morning, the club rallied.

This time, however, it came late with seven runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and three more in the sixth inning to force extra innings.

Once there, Buffalo Creek defeated North Brandon 11-10 in seven innings and advances to next week's state tournament in Melbourne.

Matthew Sullivan and Taylor Steier had multi-hit games, while Eric Rinderman launched a game-tying three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth to pace Buffalo Creek.

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