Prep baseball | Sarasota Baseball Classic begins Monday with schedule tweak

jlembo@bradenton.comMarch 23, 2014 

Run a baseball tournament long enough, and there is a good chance you'll see everything.

Just ask Brian Ahles, tournament director for this week's Sarasota Baseball Classic.

A team dropped out for the first time in the tournament's rich 29-year history when Coral Springs Charter told the committee it wasn't participating, paring the field down to an uneven number of 15 teams.

"It was a tough situation, because we got the call a couple of weeks ago," Ahles said. "That made it next to impossible to find someone else. We tried, but it didn't work out."

So an adjustment was made to the seven-team Red Bracket, which includes Palmetto, Lakewood Ranch and Cardinal Mooney. The area's other local team, Manatee, will compete in the Blue Bracket.

Rather than go with two uneven pools, the Red Bracket teams will play four games each, and the one with the best record will be crowned champion. Tiebreakers will be used if necessary.

Punta Gorda Charlotte and three teams from the Miami area -- Miami Palmetto, Miami Springs and Somerset -- round out the Red Bracket field.

The tournament runs Monday through Thursday at three different sites in Sarasota County: the Buck O'Neil Baseball Complex, Riverview's home stadium at Twin Lakes Park and Sarasota High.

"We had to keep our guarantee of each team getting four games," Ahles said. "When people come to Sarasota, they count on playing four games."Action gets underway at 4 p.m. Monday when Lakewood Ranch meets Miami Palmetto at Twin Lakes. Palmetto plays Miami Springs at 4:30 p.m., and Cardinal Mooney meets Miami Palmetto at 7:30 p.m.

The latter two games will be played at the Buck O'Neil Baseball Complex, which also is located at Twin Lakes Park and is the developmental headquarters for the Baltimore Orioles.

Manatee opens Blue Bracket play at the Buck O'Neil complex, as well, when the Hurricanes meet Port St. Lucie at 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Manatee is in Pool B with Flanagan, Riverview and Port St. Lucie. Pool A consists of Sarasota, Florida Christian, Taravella and Viera.

Pool plays runs through Wednesday. The championship and other finals will be played Thursday.

"It's a great tournament, a lot of great teams play in it," said Manatee coach Rob Viera, who played in the Sarasota Baseball Classic during his day as a Hurricane. "It's a good little judge of caliber for us to see how we stand against the best teams in Florida."

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