It didn’t take very long for American Heritage to get out of its state semifinal game at Dodgertown Friday afternoon.
By scoring seven runs in the third inning, the Patriots rolled to an 11-3 victory over Ponte Vedre in a Class 6A semifinal.
Heritage (25-3) will now go for its second consecutive title Saturday at 12:35 p.m. against Land O’Lakes in the Class 6A championship game.
Heritage and coach Marty Cooper are vying for their Broward-best eighth state title.
“We play a really fast style of game,” Cooper said. “We practice running the bases to create confusion. I have always believed that there are times where it’s not the team which plays the best wins, but the team which makes the most mistakes loses.
“They made some mistakes and gave us some extra runners.”
Heritage got things going from the start with Hannah Sipos leading off the bottom of the first with a double to left.
Sipos later scored the initial run on a bunt from Maya Rodriguez.
After a scoreless second, the Patriots broke things wide open as Ponte Vedra broke down.
Up 8-0, Cooper reminded his charges of a similar situation the Patriots faced in 2014.
Down 8-0 in the state title game to Belleville, Heritage rallied and ended up winning 11-10.
“We just wanted to go after the first pitch, get on base and make things happen,” said Sipos.
“We knew it would take seven innings after what happened a few yearsa ago. We couldn’t sit back.”
After the Sharks (21-8) scored three in the fifth, Cooper brought in lefty pitcher Amelia Saviskas to change things up a bit.
The move worked and Heritage plays for yet another title on Saturday.
▪ Class 8A semifinal: Orange Park Oakleaf 10, St. Thomas Aquinas 0: Nationally-ranked Oakleaf scored three runs in the top of the third and ran past Aquinas and into a state championship game for the first time in school history.
Aquinas (21-10) was making its fifth consecutive trip to the state finals; after winning the state championship in 2013 and ’14, the Raiders have lost in the final four the past three seasons.
On Friday, Oakleaf (29-2 and ranked seventh in the MaxPreps poll) had a chance to score in the second before finally doing so in the third.
Aquinas didn’t do itself any favors with sloppy defensive play, two runs coming home on a throwing error which made it 3-0.
In the fourth, Oakleaf made it 4-0 after an error put the leadoff batter in scoring position. In the fifth, Oakleaf put any hope of an Aquinas comeback to bed by plating three more in the fifth then made it a 10-run affair in the top of the seventh.
“We have had these kind of games unfortunately,” coach Bryan Baucom said. “We certainly didn’t help ourselves out. We left runners on base, made errors. They hit the ball and we made mistakes. We didn’t put the bat on the ball as much as we needed to.”