With time clicking down in the first half, St. Thomas Aquinas kept with the game plan: move the ball around on offense and find a crack in Saint Andrew’s devastating zone defense.
How about two goals in the last 16 seconds before halftime?
Those two goals allowed the Raiders to run away with Friday’s boys’ lacrosse state semifinal with a 14-5 victory over the Scots at IMG Academy.
“We were hoping our athleticism would kick in at some point,” Aquinas coach Terry Crowley said. “We have a real athletic group and we were hoping that it would kick in. Listen, we have never beaten Saint Andrew’s, ever, so it’s a big moment for us and there’s always been a big rivalry between the two schools.”
The win propels the Raiders into Saturday’s state title game, where they will meet Orlando Lake Highland Prep — a team Aquinas beat 11-10 earlier this season.
The first of the two late goals came from Louie Yovino, who whizzed his in with 16.1 seconds remaining in the half. Then Alex Tumminello delivered the backbreaker, zinging a goal in with 1.4 seconds left before the break.
“We were just on a mission,” said Yovino, who had a hat trick. “Every single time we moved the ball, we just knew the mission wasn’t over yet.”
The Raiders kept up the intensity, which gave them a 5-1 halftime cushion, in the second half as they outscored the Scots 9-4 in the final two quarters. That was due to killer defense, which limited what Saint Andrew’s could do offensively.
▪ 4-8A quarterfinal — Flanagan 1, Hialeah 0 (11): It took awhile, a long while, but a brilliant pitching performance by Flanagan’s Gentry Fortuno did not go unrewarded thanks to a bases-loaded single by Ricky Presno with two outs in the 11th that finally snapped a scoreless marathon.
The Falcons (20-5) will host West Broward in a rematch of their district championship game Tuesday at 7.
Thanks to some short-pitch innings along the way, Fortuno never came out of the game, going all 11 innings giving up just four hits, striking out nine and never walked one of the 35 T-Bred batters that he faced. Hialeah (11-14) had just one runner reach second base all day.
But Fortuno had to sit in the dugout and watch in frustration as his teammates could not muster up a single run along the way as well. That thanks to a combined great pitching performance by Hialeah starter Anselmo Suarez who came out after seven and then Erisloady Rives.
"It’s my senior year and there’s a lot on my shoulders so I just had to keep pitching,” said Fortuno who confirmed that, with 115 pitches, he wasn’t coming back out for the 12th. “My defense did a great job out there making plays and my fast ball and change ups were finding their spots.”
The Falcons thought they had the game won in the last of the seventh when, with the winning run on second and two outs, Miguel Presno, Ricky’s brother, ripped a shot down the left field line that was foul by inches before grounding out on the next pitch sending the game to extra innings.
After Rives retired the first two Flanagan batters in the 11th, Arrison Perez got the final rally going with a base hit up the middle, his fourth of the day. Rives then caught a wild streak as he walked pinch hitters Alex Hernandez and Jorge Gonzalez on four and five pitches, respectively setting the stage for Presno’s game-winning hit.
“I was just trying to forget about my other at-bats and simply try and get the bat on the ball and drive it somewhere, said Presno who was 0 for 5 before his hit. I got a fast ball outside and just drove it.”
Hia: 000-000-000-00 -- -- 0-4-3
Flan: 000-000-000-01 -- -- 1-8-0
WP: Gentry Fortuno; LP: Erisloady Rives.
▪ 4-4A quarterfinal — St. Brendan 3, Key West 1: Strong pitching and some clutch hitting helped lift the Sabres at Barry University.
Sabres’ starting pitcher Andres Fernandez got off to a shaky start, walking the first two batters he faced and giving up an RBI single to Key West starting pitcher Greg Velez to give the Conchs a 1-0 lead.
But Fernandez quickly settled down, retiring the next nine hitters he faced and not giving up another run for the rest of the game. Fernandez finished with four strikeouts and earned the winning decision in his complete game victory.
“I knew he was going to pitch his heart out. When games count, he comes through,” St. Brendan Head Coach Luis Padron said.
Trailing in the bottom of the fourth, Sabres’ third baseman Gabe San Roman smacked an RBI double into right-center to tie the game. With two outs in the fifth inning, Sabres centerfielder Christian Martin and designated hitter Ryan Hernandez hit back-to-back RBI singles to put St. Brendan ahead for good.
KW: 100-000-0 -- -- 1-3-2
StB: 000-120-x -- -- 3-7-0
WP: Andres Fernandez. LP: Gregory Veliz. StB 13-12, KW 18-9.
▪ 4-6A quarterfinal — Pines Charter 4, Port St. Lucie 3
PSL: 201-000-000 -- -- 3-6-0
PC: 010-020-001 -- -- 4-11-1
WP: Daniel Rivero (5-3), 5 IP, H, 9 K’s. Trent Herzog GW RBI single, 3 RBI; Anthony Nogueiras 3-3, 2 2B, RS.
▪ 4-2A quarterfinal — Brito Miami 10, Colonial Christian 0
ColC: 000-00 -- -- 0-2-0
Bri: 216-01 -- -- 10-11-0
WP: Christian Crowe. Alex Nino 2-4, 2B, 2 RS, 4 SB, 2 RBI; Luis Nieves 2-3, 3 RBI; Richard Nunez 2-2, RBI.
▪ District 15 championship — Southwest d. Ferguson 23-25, 25-15, 21-25, 25-22, 15-10: Host Southwest (22-4) overcame a 2-1 set deficit to defeat Ferguson (14-4). Adiel Hernandez led the Eagles with 22 assists and Orlando Gomez had 26 digs.
"We held it together, stuck together and fought together,” Gomez said. “No matter what situation we are in, we always come back."
The Eagles will face host Palmetto in the state play-in game Tuesday at 7.