By:  J. Daniel Pearson

It will be a huge Thursday night at the Ranch, as the Harmony Longhorns will battle Osceola at home for both baseball and softball district titles.

The Longhorns baseball team, the top seed in Class 7A, District 9 reached the finals with a thrilling 4-3 win over upstart Celebration; while the Kowboys needed 11 innings to slip by Tohopekaliga, 5-4.  In softball, the #1 seeded Longhorns trounced Poinciana, 15-0, while Osceola beat Tohopekaliga, 10-6, to set up the Class 7A, District 10 Championship Game.  Both softball and baseball district finals will start at 6 p.m.

“I felt we were tight early in the game and were playing not to lose, instead of playing to win,” Harmony baseball coach Heath Williams said.  “This time of the year you are in survive and advance mode.  Our pitchers made the pitches when we needed them and we did enough at the plate to win.” 

Tied 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh, Harmony needed a two-out rally to pull the game out.  Yathniel Matos got things going when he was hit by a pitch.  Sam Castillo drew a walk off Cody Bergeron and Santiago then delivered a soft liner over the head of shortstop Daniel Valez for the game-winner. 

The game-winning rally capped off a come-from-behind win where Celebration controlled the early going.  

Alejandro Moreno opened the game with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice and scored on Sebastian Rivera’s RBI single as the Storm took a 1-0 lead.  Although Celebration starting pitcher Santiago Gonzalez was keeping the Harmony bats in check – they failed to build on the lead as they stranded three men in scoring position in the first three innings.

Trailing 1-0, Harmony finally got on the board in the fifth inning. Ashton Magorrian doubled with two outs.  Nate O’Neil followed with an infield single, but on the play Magorrian never stopped running and scored from second to tie the game, 1-1. “Ashton has some wheels, so there was no hesitation in sending him,” Williams noted. “A slower runner would have gotten the stop sign but when I saw the fielder throw to first, we were sending him.”

Harmony took a 3-1 lead in the seventh.  Castillo singled and Santiago’s sacrifice bunt was thrown away to put runners at second and third.  A Cody Bergeron wild pitch plated the go-ahead run and Clayton Williams’ RBI single brought home the Longhorn’s third run.

Still, there was no quit in the Storm.

After Magorrian quickly retired the first two batters he faced in the top of the seventh, Moreno –who reached base four times on the night — and David Sevilla each delivered sharp singles to right.  Rivera then slammed a doubled into the right-centerfield gap to tie the score.  Magorrian issued an intentional walk to Hernandez, before getting Ciro Yanez to foul out to first to end the threat.

“Proud of the way we fought back in the end.  We had some opportunities to build a bigger lead early and didn’t take advantage of it.  Still our guys never gave up,” Storm coach Ed Kuzma said.

In the softball semifinals, Harmony’s Lindsey Green homered and drove in three runs; while Emerson Alsan had two hits and four RBI in the win. The Lady Kowboys dispatched Tohopekaliga, 10-6, as freshman Faith Ferrer went 2 for 4 with three RBI and two runs scored; while fellow freshman Yeidi Rosa doubled twice and scored three runs.

Harmony and Osceola are not the only schools that are going for District Championships on Thursday, as both the St. Cloud baseball and softball teams also won district semifinals on Tuesday night.  At the USSSA Sports Complex, St. Cloud’s baseball team fell behind 6-2 but scored two in the sixth and one in the seventh to force extra innings.  After trading runs in the ninth, St. Cloud added two in the 10th to defeat Melbourne, 9-7.  Josh Bejarano had a couple of hits and two RBI for the Bulldogs; while Sebastian Echeverry picked up the win in relief.  St. Cloud will meet Viera in Thursday’s 6A, District 8 Championship.

St. Cloud (13-13) will play Boone for the Class 7A, District 9 championship following their 10-2 win over Cypress Creek on Tuesday.  Addison Felblinger homered, doubled, drove in five runs and struck out 11 in the win.


Monday, April 29

  • Celebration 3, Poinciana 1 (7A, D9)
  • Liberty 3, Gateway 1  (5A, D7)

Tuesday, April 30

  • Harmony 4, Celebration 3 (7A, D9)
  • Osceola 5, Tohopekalia 4  (11 innings). (7A, D9)
  • St. Cloud 9, Melbourne 7 (10 innings) (6A, D8)
  • Sebring 17, Liberty 2 (4 innings) (5A, D7)

Thursday, May 2

  • 7A, District 9 Championship Osceola at Harmony, 6 p.m.
  • 6A, District 8 Championship Game at USSSA Sports Complex, St.Cloud at Viera, 6 p.m.


Monday, April 29

  • Poinciana 16, Celebration 1 (7A, D10)
  • Liberty 14, Gateway 4 (5A, D6)

Tuesday, April 30

  • Harmony 15, Poinciana 0 (4 Innings) (7A, D10)
  • Osceola 10, Tohopekaliga 6. (7A, D 10)
  • St. Cloud 10, Cypress Creek 2 (7A, D9)
  • Auburndale 22, Liberty 1 (4 innings) (5A, D7)

Thursday, May 2

  • 7A, District 10 Championship: Osceola at Harmony, 6 p.m.
  • 7A, District 9 Championship at Lake Nona: St. Cloud vs. Boone, 6 p.m.