FORT MYERS -- Right on the heels of an amazing pitching performance Wednesday, the Westwood Christian Warriors got another one Thursday night.
And it could not have come at a better time as Jason Gutierrez, after missing most of the season with shoulder issues, stepped onto the field in only his second start all season and fired a one-hitter to lead his team to a 9-3 victory over defending state champion Deltona Trinity Christian in the Class 2A state championship game at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers.
It was only a day earlier that University of Miami commit Danny Garcia fired a three-hit, complete-game shutout in the semifinal victory over Tampa Cambridge.
“Just amazing, what a gutty kid,” said Westwood Christian coach Luis Padron of Gutierrez. “We weren’t necessarily thinking he would go the entire game tonight but each inning when I would check with him he just shook his head and said ‘coach, no way, I feel great’ so we let him go.”
Trinity Christian (17-11), which was going for its fourth state title in a five-year stretch, got its only hit in the third inning, a ground ball just past first base. The only reason the Eagles plated three runs in the inning was because of two big errors, one a dropped infield fly ball and the other an error at second on what would have been an inning-ending double play.
Gutierrez retired the side in order in all but the last of the other six innings when he issued a harmless leadoff walk. He struck out the final batter, Brenden Garbachik to finish with a total of nine strikeouts.
“I’m a senior, this was the last game of my high school career and there was no way I was coming out,” said Gutierrez. “That third inning was tough and I threw a lot of pitches  but after that, I settled back down again and really found my groove and cruised.”
It was also a historic night for the school itself as it marked the first ever state championship in any sport for Westwood Christian.
“This school has been around for 50 years or so and it’s never been known much for athletics so it feels great to bring something back home like this,” said senior third baseman Anthony Peñas. “I was on that team last year that lost that 1-0 game and it was really tough to live with. We worked so hard to get back to this point and we knew we had what it took to finish the job.”
Westwood could not have dreamed of a better start as they jumped all over Trinity Christian starter Tyler Lawrence for three runs in the first and, after Lawrence was replaced by Nelson Mendez to start the second, greeted him with three more runs to build a 6-0 lead.
Anthony Gonzalez delivered a one-out base hit in the first and Luis Diaz followed with a double off the left-field wall to leave runners at second and third. After Peñas walked to loaded the bases, Miguel Gonzalez scored Anthony Gonzalez on a sacrifice fly to right.
The second run came when Diaz scored from third after Lawrence tried a pick off play at first and the ball got away. Catcher Claudio Rubiera then stepped up and drilled a double to left center, scoring Peñas from first.
The Warriors (17-7) plated three more runs in the second. Robert Hernandez singled with one out and, after stealing both second and third, scored on a Anthony Gonzalez sac fly to center.
Westwood offset Trinity Christian’s momentum from its three-run third by scoring a run in the bottom of the inning when they loaded the bases before Danny Fernandez tagged up at third on a Diaz sac fly to left.
“We came out swinging and got that big early lead and that was huge,” said Padron. “I can’t be more proud of these kids for battling and finding a way to get this done.”
WP: J. Gutierrez (2-1). LP: T. Lawrence (4-3). Top performers: R. Hernandez 2-3. A. Gonzalez 2-2, 2 RBI. M. Gonzalez 1-3, 3 RBI