St. Pete Times
SEMINOLE — The IMG Academy School from Bradenton came into this year's Hitting Academy Invitational at Seminole with a bit of a chip on its shoulder after losing the title game last year to the hosts.
The Warhawks lost in the first round, denying the Panthers a chance at a rematch, so IMG Academy set its aim at claiming a title.
It succeeded, riding a barrage of first-inning runs to beat Lakewood Ranch 18-5 Saturday.
"We never won this tournament before, and we had a bad taste in our mouth from last year, so it's a great way to start the season," said John Ryan Murphy, a senior who went 3-for-3 with two homers and seven RBIs. "It's just an example of how our team has great offense and excellent pitching."
The Miami-bound catcher was a huge part of a 12-run first inning that featured six consecutive hits to start the game. Murphy earned most valuable player honors and was joined on the all-tournament team by centerfielder Willie Tart, who went 2-for-3 with a home run, two runs and three RBIs.
Casey Mulholland pitched three scoreless innings for the win, allowing one hit and striking out seven.
"With the starting pitching that we have and the core group we have on offense, we have a team that's geared for these type of tournaments," IMG Academy coach Kevin Sharp said.
In other games, Spencer Hierman had five strikeouts and allowed one hit over seven shutout innings in Seminole's 9-0 win over Clearwater. Mike Martello went 2-for-4 and scored one run to lead the Warhawks.
Travis Webster tossed five scoreless innings with six strikeouts to help Countryside beat Clearwater Central Catholic 6-0. Kyle Leja went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs for the Cougars.
Dillon Cordell allowed one run and five hits with 10 strikeouts as Cardinal Mooney beat Tarpon Springs 5-1.
Also on the all-tournament team: Heirman, Andrew McCormick (Clearwater), Spencer Wilson (Countryside), Tommy Goodman (Cardinal Mooney), Zach Olsen (CCC), Tommy Organ (Tarpon Springs), Michael Ohlman (Lakewood Ranch), and Shane O'Connor (Lakewood Ranch).