Despite being just a sophomore, Flanagan’s Gentry Fortuno doesn’t seem to get rattled very often.
On Tuesday, Douglas tried its best to put a scare in the Falcons’ 6-foot-3 ace, yet Fortuno’s high school record remains perfect as he struck out 10 to lift Flanagan to a 3-0 victory and a berth in the Class 8A state quarterfinals.
Fortuno, now 17-0 in his two seasons with Flanagan, struck out two in each of the final three innings and ended things by putting the Eagles down in order in the seventh.
“That kid is fantastic,”’ Douglas coach Todd Fitz-Gerald said afterward.
The Falcons (20-5) will play host to Jupiter in Friday’s regional finals, with the winner advancing to next week’s state finals in Fort Myers. Flanagan has three state titles on its résumé yet hasn’t been to state since 2010.
For Flanagan to get to the spring home of the Boston Red Sox for state this year, it will likely do so without Fortuno on the mound with the regional finals just a few days away.
“Fortuno is something special. He’s a sophomore and he just doesn’t lose,” Flanagan coach Ray Evans said. “Now we’re going to have to do it without him, but we have the guys. It’s their time to step up and help us make one more trip this year.’”
Flanagan gave Fortuno (9-0 this season) all the runs he would need in the opening inning when Ryan Dodge ripped a double to center field to score Oscar Rodriguez.
Andres Visbal, who reached on the first of his two catcher interference calls of the night, was thrown out trying to score from first or it would have been 2-0.
Instead, Douglas starter Max Boling matched Fortuno through the sixth when Visbal took first on interference again before racing home on Dodge’s second double of the night — this one to left.
The Falcons tagged on another run in the sixth and that was more than enough for Fortuno.
Douglas, which ends its season 19-5, had its chances. Down 1-0 in the sixth, Dom Dicapprio walked and Mike Greenberg hit a shot to deep center that was tracked down by Rodriguez at the fence.
“I struggled a little at the beginning when I couldn’t find my curve,” Fortuno said. “I found most of my pitches. My fastball is always there, my changeup found its way. When our team gets more runs, I feel more confident and my pitches work more.”
WP: Gentry Fortuno (9-0). LP: Max Boling (3-1). FLAN 20-5
• State play-in — Cypress Bay d. Cardinal Gibbons 23-25, 20-25, 25-23, 25-21, 17-15: The host Lightning (15-1) overcame a two-set deficit night to advance to state for the first time in program history.
Cypress Bay coach Chris Guerra told his team heading into the third that if it won the set, the Lightning would complete the comeback in five.
The turning point happened as the third set saw 12 lead changes and 11 ties. Knotted at 20, Cypress Bay scored four consecutive points en route to its first set victory.
In the fourth, the Lightning never trailed, leading by as many as six points to even the score at 2. The Chiefs (20-3) took an early 6-1 advantage in the final set before Cypress Bay went on a 16-9 run, finishing off a rally that had fans rushing the court.
Senior Breno Ertty collected 23 kills and seven digs, while senior Mike Montalvo recorded 42 assists. Sophomore Corry Short tallied 23 kills for Gibbons.
• State play-in — Douglas d. West Boca Raton 21-25, 25-21, 25-20, 25-16: Douglas is heading back to the state tournament this weekend after beating West Boca Raton 21-25, 25-21, 25-20, 25-16 in the first round play-in game. The Eagles will face Southwest Miami in the state quarterfinals this weekend.
Douglas (17-1) jumped out early with a 4-0 lead in the first game, but lost control of the game as West Boca (13-9) broke a 20-20 tie with four straight points en route to winning the game 25-21.
The Eagles responded in the second game though. Trailing 13-10 in the second game, the Eagles ran off eight of the next nine points to take an 18-14 lead. West Boca (13-9) closed it to 22-20, but Douglas finished the game 25-21.
Once it took control, it was all Douglas the rest of the way. The Eagles jumped up 14-8 in the third game and blew it open in the fourth game, going up 15-7 before cruising to the win.