Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Prep baseball: Getting to know Winter Haven

photo by Jim Ross/Canadian Press
In the final non-football prep event to be played in Manatee County this spring, Lakewood Ranch's baseball team hosts Winter Haven on 7 p.m. Friday in the Class 6A-Region 3 championship game.
The winner heads to the Class 6A state final four, which begins next Thursday at Digital Domain Park in Port St. Lucie.
The baseball Mustangs (23-6) won Lakewood Ranch's first state team title in 2003, and are currently ranked second in Class 6A by MaxPreps.
Here is a little info on Winter Haven (17-10), ranked 14th in 6A by MaxPreps.
The top-ranked team is Pace, which reached the Class 5A state final four last seasons and hosts Lake City Columbia on Friday in the Region 1 championship game.

HOW THEY GOT HERE: The Blue Devils won the District 9 title before beating Land O'Lakes, 4-3, in a regional quarterfinal. They won another one-run game Tuesday when they erased a 1-0, sixth-inning deficit and beat Tarpon Springs 2-1 with a run in the bottom of the seventh.
HISTORY: Winter Haven has never won a state baseball title but was a runner-up in 1949, '53, '04 and '05.
ON A ROLL: The Blue Devils have won seven straight and have allowed eight runs during the streak.
HE LOOKS FAMILIAR: According to, former major-league Pat Borders, pictured to the right of Joe Carter, will become the team's head coach at the conclusion of this season. Borders is currently on staff as an assistant and has two sons on the team - Levi, a senior, and Luke, a junior.
A catcher, Borders appeared in 1,099 games during a 17-year career spent with the Toronto Blue Jays, Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals, California Angels, Cleveland Indians, Seattle Mariners and Minnesota Twins.
Borders was a career .253 hitter and  the MVP of the 1992 World Series, when the Blue Jays beat the Atlanta Braves.

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