Team Florida 2025 (pictured above) from Hialeah began its fall season in impressive fashion this past weekend at the 5th Annual Fall Gold Glove NIT. They went 5-0 to win the championship while outscoring opponents 21-4. Last season this group finished with an overall record in USSSA play of 55-19 – one of the best in the state.
This 12-Open division in the NIT tournament featured 12 teams all from the host state. Four squads carried Major designations into Sarasota: Scorpions 12U Kennedy, Chandler World- Bandits, Bandits Power by JOBA and Team Florida 2025. The rest were AAA classified, but ready to pull the upset.
The tournament format was similar to many other in the USSSA sanction. Teams competed in a two game pool play schedule and were seeded 1 through 12 based on overall record and average runs allowed. At that point seeds 1 through 6 were placed in a “Gold Seeds” single elimination bracket to determine a winner while seeds 7 through 12 were sent to a “Silver Seeds” bracket for consolation.
Team Florida 2025 drew a tough opponent in its first game as they took on Chandler World- Bandits. Manager Emilio De Leon’s team would get pushed to its limits, but prevail over Chandler 2-1. Christian Ponte started on the mound for Team Florida and threw three strong innings before John Rodriguez entered the game to complete the final two frames.
The second game –against a AAA team, 5 Star National CF, ended in the same winning margin for Team Florida, 3-2. De Leon used three pitchers in this game to navigate the 5 Star lineup: Brandon de Goti for 3 innings, Anthony Tizol for .2 innings and Kendry Blanco for one out. This was just enough to solidify Team Florida as the second of two 2-0 teams in the rankings, just behind Bandits Power by JOBA.
In bracket play Team Florida was matched up against the Riverview Warriors 12U (AAA) in a first round game. The boys from Hialeah increased their intensity and pitched a shutout, winning 8-0. Anthony Tizol threw three innings for the victors and Kendry Blanco completed the final frame. This triumph moved them onto the semifinals.
The final four presented a repeat match up versus Chandler World- Bandits for Team Florida. The team from Windermere again couldn’t solve the pitching of Christian Ponte as the star went the full five innings this game and led his team to a 4-0 win. In the other semi, Miracles White (AAA) from Lakeland upset the top seed Bandits Power 3-2.
In the finals, Team Florida continued the trend of winning low-scoring close ballgames as they defeated the aptly-named Miracles 4-1. Team Florida will look to string two titles together as they are back in action this weekend at the 6-4-3 September Shootout NIT in Sarasota. Their pool play competition will consist of the Sarasota Shock- Green and Brandon Blazers 12U – both AAA.
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