PALMETTO -- With two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, Rylan Jomisko ripped a line drive down the left-field line. It bounced on the chalk and allowed Jomisko, the go-ahead run, to dash all the way around to third base.
Waiting for him was the Buffalo Creek manager and his father, Tommy Jomisko.
Father shared a bit of strategic advice -- if anything goes past the catcher, go home -- and a few personal words with his son.
After the celebration for Buffalo Creek's 5-4, walk-off win against Lakewood Ranch, Jomisko asked his son if he could remember what he told him.
"What did I say about you?" Jomisko asked him. "I gave you a high five and I said. ... You don't remember, do you?"
"Uhhh, no," Rylan Jomisko responded.
He remembered the one bit of advice, though, and it let Buffalo Creek move into the winner's bracket of the District 26 Little League 9/10 All-Star Tournament at Blackstone Park. When a ball finally sneaked past the catcher, Jomisko raced home and Buffalo Creek celebrated its tournament-opening victory.
Buffalo Creek will face Manatee National at 7 p.m.
Thursday. Ranch will return to the diamond Saturday at 11 a.m. against the loser of the Thursday game.
In the evening's other 9/10 game, host Palmetto beat Braden River 11-4 by scoring nine runs in the first two innings. Palmetto takes on Manatee American at 7 p.m. Thursday, and Braden River awaits the loser for an 11 a.m. game Saturday.
Buffalo Creek was in control for the early portion of the game after starting pitcher Noah Eatman tossed four innings of one-run ball, but in the fifth, Lakewood Ranch jumped ahead 4-3 when two runs scored on a wild pitch. Buffalo Creek answered to tie the game at 4 before Ranch threatened again in the sixth.
With a runner on first and two outs, Lakewood Ranch sent a ball sailing toward left field. During the regular season, when balls rarely reach the outfield on the fly, the All-Star caliber players man the infield. It can be tough to determine who the All-Star outfielders will be.
Calin Heath stood out to Jomisko, though. Even when he was just shagging fly balls during batting practice, Heath flew around the grass, sprawling for catches. In the fifth, he saved the game by lunging forward to snare a potential extra-base hit.
"That left-field catch saved the game," Jomisko said.
And it set the stage for Rylan Jomisko's game-winning plays and his father's message.
"I just told him I love watching him play baseball," Jomisko said.
Even after West Manatee uncorked several home runs and blew out Braden River 16-0 in the first game of the Intermediate All-Star tournament, the team decided to dump the cooler on starting pitcher Bailey Zoller.
"We're a power team," manager Andy O'Dell said, "so the home runs aren't surprising."
What was surprising was a complete game shutout for its starter. Zoller pitched for the entire five innings West Manatee needed to invoke the mercy rule against Braden River, which let West Manatee save its other pitchers and cruise within two wins of the District 26 championship.
West Manatee faces Palmetto at 7 p.m. Thursday for a spot in the final. The loser of that game will face Braden River at 7 a.m. Saturday for an elimination game.
"Our biggest thing was that our pitcher went all the way," O'Dell said.