PORT ST.LUCIE -- Lakeland erased a 6-1 deficit in the final three innings and scored a single run in the top of the seventh inning on a two-out balk to defeat Manatee 7-6 in the Class 5A state semifinal Friday at Digital Domain Park.
The Hurricanes, making their first trip to the state tournament since winning it all in 1963, committed four errors, two of them in the top of the seventh inning.
Lakeland scored a total of three runs on two wild pitches in the top of the sixth inning to tie up Manatee at 6-6.
The Dreadnaughts loaded the bases in the inning against Manatee pitcher Correlle Prime. Two runners came home when Prime uncorked a wild pitch, and catcher Bryan Voelkl committed a throwing error. The tying run scored later in the inning on another wild pitch.
Malik Tatis and Michael Sabato had run-score base hits for the Dreadnaughts in the top of the fifth inning to get Lakeland within 6-3.
Manatee scored five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to grab a 6-1 lead. Erik Lindberg opened with a double down the left-field line. Trevor Beeman and Tyler Beeman followed with singles, the second of which scored Lindberg. After a walk to Cord Sandberg loaded the bases, Chase Sandberg lofted a two-run double that eluded the Lakeland fielders down the right-field line. Bryan Voelkl's two-run single scored the Sandbergs and capped a big inning.
Lakeland starter Bradley Labozzetta entered the game having surrendered six earned runs all season. All six of the runs he gave up Friday night were earned.
Lakeland helped the Hurricanes score the tying run in the bottom of the third inning.
Manatee's Mitchell Shreves reached on an infield single to lead off the inning and, with two outs, moved to third on consecutive wild pitches by Lakeland pitcher Bradley Labozzetta. He scored on a Bryan Voelkl single into left field to knot the score at 1-1.
Earlier, Lakeland pushed across a run, with help from Manatee, to take a 1-0 lead in the middle of the second inning. The Dreadnaughts got a runner on first base when Tatis walked with one out, then a throwing error by Prime and a wild pitch moved him to third. A base hit by Tyler Prebor brought Tatis home.
The game, originally scheduled to begin at 5 p.m., began at approximately 6:15 p.m. because of rain and lightning delays that pushed back the start of a 2A state semifinal earlier in the day.