Manatee 9-U squad one win from title
EAST MANATEE -- The Manatee All-Stars 9-U squad used a four-run fifth inning to ease by Palm Beach Gardens 8-3 on Saturday at Heritage Harbour to move into the Cal Ripken state tournament finals.
Manatee (16-0) got a home run from Ryan Combs and a two-run, pinch-hit triple from Ryan Hanson in the big fifth inning. Jaden Stockton went the distance on the mound, striking out six. Drew March added two hits.
"We expect big things from them," manager Marc Hanson said of his players. "They never give up when they're down, and they're having fun, which is the most important thing."
Manatee will meet either North Brandon or Palm Beach Gardens in the final at 1 p.m. Sunday at Heritage Harbour. North Brandon or Palm Beach Gardens would have to defeat Manatee twice to win in the title.
The champion advances to the Southeast Region tournament beginning July 23 in Palm Beach Gardens. If Palm Beach Gardens advances to the final, both Manatee and Palm Beach Gardens will move on because the latter automatically qualifies for the region as the host.
-- Timothy R. Wolfrum, Herald staff