TAMPA - Florida Christian scored a pair of runs in the ninth inning to defeat North Florida Christian and capture the Class 2A state championship Tuesday.
It was the second straight game the Patriots emerged victorious in their last at-bat. Florida Christian scored two runs in the seventh inning in Monday's 2-1 semifinal victory against Trinity Catholic.
"I feel like I'm losing hair left and right," Florida Christian coach Ernie Padron said. "What I have left is going gray by the second."
Locked in a pitcher's duel, the Patriots scored both runs without getting the ball out of the infield.
Aurelio Cicard led off the ninth with a single to centerfield and Richard Melendez came in to pinch run. Kevin Villa then put a sacrifice bunt down the first-base line. Matt Miller fielded the ball and flipped it to pitcher Bill Gilbert, but Villa beat him to the bag. Gilbert fell on the play and from his knees fired across the diamond to get Melendez. The throw skipped by Jason Lewis and into the dugout, allowing Melendez to score.
Two batters later, freshman Kyle Radziewski executed a safety squeeze, scoring Villa for a 2-0 lead. Aurelio Cicard came in with one on in the ninth to retire three for the save.
Vince Valenzuela picked up the win in relief of starter Kyle Preshong, who pitched seven scoreless innings. Preshong gave up six hits, striking out six and walking one. Miller, who started for the Eagles before moving to first in the eighth, was equally as impressive. The freshman right-hander yielded just three hits while fanning twelve.
A: Summit Christian nabs first state title
TAMPA - Behind steady relief pitching and timely hitting, the Saints of Summit Christian won the championship, turning back Trinity Christian 6-4.
It is the first state title for the Saints.
Building a 6-1 lead after four innings, the Saints saw that lead threatened when the Warriors scored three runs in the fifth.
Summit Christian coach Raul Hernandez brought in sophomore Fernando Canas in relief of starter and winner Brian Jones. Inheriting one baserunner, Canas got off to a shaky start, giving up a single to second baseman Hainley Statia, then balking in one run and wild pitching home a second.
A steal home by Warrior catcher Ulrich Snyders closed the score to 6-4. At that point, however, Canas settled down, retiring eight of the next nine, striking out five, allowing no hits and walking one.
"I had Donald Jordat, (Monday's) semifinal winner, ready in the bullpen but Fernando really came through for us," Hernandez said.
The teams exchanged runs in the first, two Saints errors allowing an unearned run to score for Trinity Christian, while three straight Saints singles accounted for Summit Christian's run.
In the third, Summit Christian (21-9) scored five times on four singles, one hit batter and two walks.
"Give them credit," Trinity Christian coach Jim Breslin said. "We were playing our infield in and they found a way to get their hits through us or over us when they had to. They deserved to win today."
Trinity Christian (26-4) entered as the top-ranked team in Class A, making the victory sweeter for nearby Summit Christian.
"I can't explain the feeling you get when you win a state title," Jordat said. "It is everything you've dreamed it would be."