PALMETTO -- A game-winning hit and Gatorade shower is something all baseball players dream of.
For Manatee American's Ozzy Lonzo, it became a reality Thursday night.
Manatee trailed by five runs heading into the final inning but rallied behind some clutch hitting and poor fielding by Buffalo Creek en route to a 14-13 win that clinched the Florida District 26 All-Star Tournament championship in the 9/10 Division.
With two outs, Lonzo hit a two-run double to right field that just dropped in, sending the crowd into a frenzy while his teammates rushed second base to embrace him.
"It's the most amazing feeling that I've ever felt," Lonzo said. "Coach told me to stay calm and rip it. When I first got to the plate I was nervous, but I stayed loose and hit it."
Lonzo went 2-for-5 with a single and a double on the night, helping Manatee finish 3-0 in tournament play and avoiding an elimination game against Buffalo Creek on Friday night.
In the top of the sixth, Luis Garrido and Luke Donnelly homered, giving Buffalo Creek a 10-8 lead. That was followed by a Matt Gagnon RBI groundout, and a Manatee pitch in the dirt gave Buffalo Creek a commanding 13-8 lead heading into the final inning.
Garrido finished the game 2-for-4 with two home runs, while Donnelly went 3-for-4 with a single, double and home run.
"I told my guys to relax. We knew if we could put some pressure on them we could get back into the game," Manatee coach Jeff Helgeson said. "We've been in that situation before; they made some mistakes in the first game, so we knew we could make a run."
Landon Gierhart got the rally started with a double to right field followed by a David Montanari single. Gierhart finished 4-for-4 on the night with three doubles and was 8-for-10 in the tournament.
Buffalo Creek finished the game with 11 errors, none more critical than the dropped popout with two outs in the bottom of the sixth that set up Lonzo's heroics.
"We challenged their best hitter Tripp Helgeson with high fastballs and he popped it up we just weren't able to make the play," Buffalo Creek coach Tommy Jomisko said. "As a group we knew defense was our biggest weakness, but I'm proud of my kids and the way they played tonight."
Manatee American will travel to Lake Wales for Section IV play.
Manatee West defeated Braden River 12-2 on Wednesday to win the D26 title. Read more at Bradenton.com/sports.