FORT MYERS -- Looking to knock down the doors of history, the Archbishop McCarthy baseball team will get its chance on Thursday night at 7:35 p.m.
Thanks to a workmanlike 7-0 drubbing of Orlando Edgewater on Wednesday morning in a Class 6A state semifinal game at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, the Mavericks (25-5) will take the field against Panama City Mosely in the title game.
And with that, a victory would make them the first team in state history to win four consecutive state titles. Mosely defeated Tampa King 2-0 in the other semifinal.
A year ago the Mavericks matched the 1996-98 Westminster Christian teams to become only the second team to win three in a row. But the Warriors lost in the regional semifinals in 1999 so McCarthy is the first team to even get a shot at the four-peat.
“Yeah, we’ve heard it over and over all year long, and we’ve just tried to stay focused each and every game and not worry too much about it,” McCarthy coach Rich Bielski said. “Of course now that we’ve made it to the final game, we’re excited about the opportunity in front of us.”
Perhaps because of the early 10 a.m. start, Bielski watched as his team overcame a sluggish start before busting things wide open with a six-run third inning.
McCarthy starter and ace Brian Gonzalez took it from there. Even though he wasn’t at his sharpest, giving up five hits and walking four, he managed to work his way out of more than one jam and keep the Eagles off the board to move his record to a perfect 11-0. Normally rock solid on defense, McCarthy committed an uncharacteristic three errors in the field as well making Gonzalez work that much harder.
“I was a little up in those first few innings and had to make a few adjustments and probably didn’t have my best stuff today but I managed to get through it,” Gonzalez said.
The Mavericks batted around in the third and got things started when Edgewater starter Troy Hamner, who entered the game with an 11-1 record, issued back-to-back walks to Michael Hernandez and Ryan Sinzenich to start the inning. After Blade Bielski laid down a perfect bunt down the third base line and beat it out for an infield hit, the bases were loaded with no outs with the top of the order coming up.
After Jonathan Quintana hit a sacrifice fly to center, scoring pinch runner Dylan Bautista from third for the game’s first run, Michael Gigliotti, Brandon Vicens and Gonzalez followed with an RBI single, RBI double and 2 RBI single, respectively to build the lead to 5-0. Two batters later, Eddie Silva scored Gonzalez on an RBI single up the middle to complete the big inning.
The Mavericks added one more run in the fifth when Gonzalez, after drawing a two out walk and advancing to third on a Aaron Soto double, scored on a base hit by Hernandez.
Bielski said that junior pitcher Andres Nunez (4-2, 2.60 ERA) will get the ball on Thursday night with Soto ready to relieve. Bielski said Gonzalez, who threw 103 piches, would not see the mound.
“He did his job today and got us to tomorrow,” Bielski said.
WP: B. Gonzalez (11-0) LP: T. Hamner (11-2) Top performers: B. Bielski 2-3, B. Gonzalez 1-2, 2 RBI, B. Vicens 1-3, RBI, E. Silva 1-2, RBI