FORT MYERS -- With a Class 2A baseball state semifinal contest as his showcase event, Westwood Christian pitcher Danny Garcia showed everybody why the University of Miami and so many other colleges want him so badly.
Garcia, who has committed to UM, was easily the most dominant player on the field Wednesday afternoon when he fired a four-hit, 12 strikeout, no-walk, complete game shutout to lead the Warriors to a 4-0 victory over Tampa Cambridge Christian at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers.
And with the win, Westwood (16-7) is back in the 2A state championship game for the second year in a row and will get another crack at Deltona Trinity Christian on Thursday at 7:30 p.m, the same Trinity Christian team that nipped them 1-0 in last year’s title game and will be looking for its fourth state title in the past five years. Trinity Christian blanked Vero Beach Master’s Academy 8-0 in the other semifinal.
Garcia faced just three batters (24) over the minimum, allowed just four base runners (he picked one player off at first) and only 23 of the 98 pitches he threw were not strikes. He retired the side in order four times and struck out the side twice in the third and sixth innings.
“I had butterflies this morning and before the game but once I got those first few outs, I just settled down and really found my groove,” said Garcia, who finished his senior season with 85 strikeouts in 66 innings pitched.
It’s a good thing Garcia was “on” because his team’s offensive output was not as the Warriors managed just three hits off Cambridge starter Nick Eicholtz who entered the game with a 5-0 record. Where Westwood benefited was Cambridge’s generosity on defense as the Lancers (16-10) committed four errors, two of them big ones in the first inning when Westwood took an early lead on two unearned runs.
After Anthony Gonzalez hit a one-out single to left, Luis Diaz hit an inning-ending double play ball that went under the shortstop’s glove. After the runners advanced on a shallow ground out to short, Miguel Gonzalez hit a routine grounder that went right under the third baseman’s glove into left field scoring both runners.
The Warriors plated one final run in the sixth without a hit when Danny Fernandez was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, went to second on a sacrifice bunt, stole third and came home on a passed ball.
Westwood Christian coach Luis Padron confirmed that senior right hander Jason Gutierrez will get the ball against Trinity on Thursday. It will be just his second start since missing virtually the entire season because of shoulder inflammation.
“We’ll keep an eye on him and see how far he can go,” said Padron, who will have junior Andy Rivera and his brother, senior Oscar Rivera ready to take over.
WP: D. Garcia (5-2). LP: N. Eicholtz (5-1). Top performers: A. Gonzalez 1-3, M. Gonzalez 1-3, D. Fernandez 1-2.
• St. Thomas Aquinas had several athletes sign recently: Bowler Kristin Zimmerman signed with Sacred Heart; Football player Alex Knight signed with Southeast Missouri State; Baseball player Peter Nicoletto signed with Rollins College; boys’ soccer player Keegan Wade signed with UMass; softball player Erica Nori signed with Princeton and teammate Lyda Tesauro signed with the University of Dallas; pole vaulter Matthew Ryan signed with Alabama; track runner Toria Levy signed with Boston University; lacrosse player Stevie Burger signed with Babson College; girls’ soccer star Ashley Cardounel signed with New York University.