HUDSON — A night after one Pinellas County team pulled a big upset on the Fivay High field, Class 5A District 8's other peninsular program couldn't follow suit.
Dunedin came within 90 feet of keeping its season going a little longer Tuesday, but No. 4 Land O' Lakes wiggled its way out of a bases-loaded jam to win 3-2.
The fifth-seeded Falcons (14-11) entered the final frame down 3-1. After senior Aaron Turman chased LOL starter Kirby Osborn with an RBI single into center field, left-handed sidearm pitcher Alex Reynolds came in and walked the bases loaded on four pitches.
Reynolds then worked ahead of Tim Luth before grounding him out to shortstop Max Law and ending the comeback.
Stranding baserunners was a recurring issue that bedeviled Dunedin all day long.
“We just couldn't get the big hit tonight and that's a great team we played today,” said Falcons coach Ron Sexton of the 11 total runners left on base. Dunedin put at least one runner in scoring position every inning except the sixth.
“I knew today would be a dogfight, but the kids should learn that in the big games it's always about the little things,” Sexton said. “The little things always dictate big games.”
One of those moments proved to produce the game's winning run.
Up 2-1 with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, LOL's Max Law jumped off third base and got Dunedin starter Colton Widdows to balk, allowing him to take home and put the Gators up 3-1.
“That's a sophomore on the mound that will probably never balk in that situation again now,” Sexton said of Widdows. “But that's a credit to a savvy coach that wanted to see how he'd react.”
Inducing the balk was the last of Law's big-time contributions Tuesday. He got himself to third after shooting a one-out triple into the right-center gap prior to eventually scoring.
“That felt good,” Law said of the hit, his second of the day. “I've been trying to go to right field more and they were throwing me outside so I just tried to put something out there."
Defensively, the freshman shortstop stepped up when LOL (17-8) needed it most. The exemplification of that came with two outs and runners at second and third in the Dunedin fourth. Falcons sophomore Adrian Comas rolled what looked to be at least an RBI infield single up the middle, but Law tracked it down, spun, nearly fell, and then whipped a strike to first baseman Kyle Sheffield for the inning-ending out.
“I was just trying to get to it and get the guy at first,” Law said. “I knew it was going to be a tough play.”
The athletic out preserved the 2-1 lead LOL just picked up a half-inning earlier. After being retired in order by Widdows in the first two innings, the Gators got to the sophomore southpaw for a pair in the third. Cameron Hilgenberg led off with a double, Connor Stephens recorded an RBI infield single and Dylan Leonard scored on an errant pickoff throw to first.
Dunedin struck first Tuesday with a run in the second on Luth's sacrifice fly to center that scored Turman.
The win now moves LOL into a semifinal tomorrow night at 7:30 with top-seeded River Ridge. The early semifinal will be between Tarpon Springs, which upset host Fivay 5-0 last night, and the winner of Tuesday's other quarter final between No. 3 Sunlake and No. 6 Anclote.
Dun - 010 000 1 --- 2-8-2
LOL - 002 001 x --- 3-5-5
LP – Colton Widdows (3-3)
Colton Widdows – L, 5.2 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 5 H, 7 K, 2 BB, 1 BK – 1-for-1, 1 BB
Aaron Turman – 2-for-2, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP
Eric Sexton – 2-for-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 Sac Bunt
Kirby Osborn – W, 6.2 IP, 2 R, 0 ER, 8 H, 3 K, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 1 BK
Max Law – 2-for-3, 1 R, 1 3B – Scored game-winning run
Connor Stephens – 2-for-3, 1 RBI