Dan PearsonBy:  J. Daniel Pearson
For Positively Osceola

Four Longhorn pitchers combined on a three-hitter as Harmony (7-8) trounced host Tohopekaliga, 6-1, to advance to the championship game of 2023 Orange Belt Conference Tournament.  The Longhorns will face Osceola – a 10-0 winner over St. Cloud in the other semifinal — at neutral site Poinciana on Friday night at 7 p.m.

“We have struggled with our control all season,” Harmony coach Heath Williams said.  “Tonight we were able to throw strikes, stay ahead of the hitters and at the end of the night that made the difference for us.”

Meanwhile, second-seeded Tohopekaliga had nothing but trouble on the mound and in the field in losing for just the third time this season in 12 games.  

With one out in the second, starting Tiger pitcher Jose Montalvo walked Angel Ramos and hit freshman Shawn Brabrant with a pitch.  Both players moved up a base on an errant pickoff attempt and Caden Scarborough drove in the first run with an RBI single.  Brabrant would come in to score on a sacrifice bunt by Angel Medina and the Longhorns would tack on another run on the play when the Tigers threw the ball away on that bunt attempt.

A dropped fly ball for a two-base error and an RBI single by Yathniel Matos made it 4-0 in the fourth.  Iziah Santiago and Angel Ramos would lead off the fifth with walks before Brabrant loaded the bases with an infield hit. Santiago would race home on a wild pitch, before Scarborough’s drive to left center fell in for a double when Toho’s outfielders collided to drive in Harmony’s sixth run of the game.

In all, five of Harmony’s runners that scored reached base via walk, hit batter or error; as the Tigers issued eight walks, hit three batters, committed four errors and uncorked two wild pitches.

Staked to a 6-0 lead, Harmony starter Justin Negron and relievers Ismael Rivera and Santiago were on cruise control.  The three combined for six shutout innings — allowing just two hits while walking three and striking out seven.  Rivera was particularly effective, retiring all six batters he faced with four strikeouts.

Tohopekaliga finally got on the board in the final frame.  Jackson Kook walked, stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Justin Diaz’s RBI single.  For the game, Ramos and Brabrant scored two runs each, while Scarborough knocked in two runs and had two hits.

At Osceola, Nick Palmi homered, hit a sacrifice fly, and drove in two runs in Osceola’s 10-0 win over the Bulldogs.  Osceola went to 10-5 on the season and has outscored their opposition 25-0 in two OBC Tournament games.

The Kowboys are the defending OBC Champions and have won six of the last seven conference crowns (Covid cancelled the 2020 season and Gateway won in 2018).  And although Harmony beat the Kowboys 11-2 back on March 9 of this year, Williams said Osceola will present a tremendous challenge as his team tries to win their first conference crown since 2014.

“Osceola is the top seed for a reason and definitely did not play well when we met earlier this year,” Williams said.  “We are going to have to bring it on Friday because I am sure they will bring their ‘A’ game.”

Tohopekaliga will play St. Cloud at 4 p.m. in the OBC third place game, which will also be played at Poinciana.

2023 OBC Baseball Tournament


Osceola 15, Gateway 0

Tohopekaliga 10, Poinciana 1

St. Cloud 13, Celebration 10

Harmony 2, Liberty 1 (8 Innings)


Osceola 10, St. Cloud 0

Harmony 6, Tohopekaliga 1

Finals – Friday at Poinciana

3rd Place:  St. Cloud vs. Tohopekaliga 4  p.m.

Championship: Harmony vs. Osceola, 7 p.m.