A Columbus fan yelled out Agua Bendita" or Holy Water in Spanish, after the sprinklers behind the backstop at the St. Thomas University baseball field soaked observers during the top of the eighth at the Killian-Columbus game Wednesday night.
The blessing that ensued for the Catholic all-boys school was an eight-run inning to effectively put the extra-inning affair away.
Columbus defeated Killian 11-3 in eight innings in a matchup of unbeaten teams in the Selective Recruiting Sir Pizza Invitational.
After their bats were quiet through the first seven innings, the Explorers hit around the lineup for seven hits to produce the eight runs off Killian pitchers Ryan Granda and Ernie Penton.
The outburst mirrors a similar eighth inning Columbus had against Jupiter the night before in which it scored three to win it.
“We were just saying we need to play a pro schedule where we play nine so we get that eighth inning every game,” Columbus coach Joe Weber said. “We seem to be hot in the eighth.”
Killian forced extra innings with a Joey Gonzalez sacrifice fly to right field that scored Mike Perez, who led off the frame with a base hit.
Columbus right-handed starting pitcher Christian Lesteiro gave up that tying run, but he was still the winning pitcher, giving up three runs and striking out 12 in seven innings.
Reliever Alex Gonzalez shut the door on the Cougars (14-5) in the bottom of the eighth striking out the side while giving up a pair of singles.
Columbus catcher Nelson Mompierre went 2 for 3 with a double, walk and three RBI, and second baseman Pablo De Armas went 2 for 5 while driving in the first two runs of the big eighth inning.
Despite the win, the Explorers (14-3) will not play in the tournament championship which will instead be played between Plantation American Heritage and Parkland Douglas, two teams that won the runs-allowed tiebreaker.
WP: Christian Lesteiro. LP: Ryan Granda.
Repeat Class 7A state boys basketball champion Blanche Ely will face its stiffest test against ESPN Super 25 Prime Prep (Texas) in the National High School Invitational quarterfinals at Georgetown Prep in Maryland on April 4.
The ESPN Super 25 No. 9 Tigers (27-1) can only hope its signature defense remains air-tight against a Prime Prep team that kept its perfect record (36-0) intact by winning the NACA Basketball Tournament.
Prime Prep features four ESPN 100 recruits led by Emmanuel Mudiay, ranked No. 3 in the 2014 class and holding offers from Kentucky, Kansas and Louisville and 6-9 power forward Elijah Thomas (No. 6 sophomore).
If Ely, led by Dallas Cameron, Khalil Thomas and Lance Tejada III can pull the upset, the Tigers (27-1) will face the Montverde Academy-Oak Hill Academy (VA) winner in the semifinals on April 6.
The Dillard girls’ team, coming off a Class 5A state title four-peat and eighth state title overall, will have its hands full with MaxPreps No. 12 Archbishop Spalding (MD) and Virginia Commonwealth recruit Camille Calhoun in the NHSI girls’ semifinals on April 5.
Dillard (28-2), which last loss came on Jan. 9, is led by two-time Class 5A player of the year Kayla Wright, a Tulsa recruit, Eva Myers and Briana Green.
MaxPreps No. 23 and Class 8A state champion Orlando Dr. Phillips plays No. 2 Life Center Academy in the late semifinal. The NHSI will be broadcast live by ESPNU.