Defending state champion Mater Academy Charter broke open a tie game in the sixth inning, scoring four times and getting steady pitching from Tyler Perez, as the Lions defeated host Jensen Beach 10-3 in the Region 4-6A final.
The loss prevented Jensen Beach, playing in its first regional championship game, from moving one step further — going to Fort Myers to compete in the state championship at the spring training home of the Boston Red Sox.
The score certainly failed to fairly illustrate how tightly the contest was played.
The Falcons (21-6) battled back after trailing 2-0 after the top of the second. Mater (18-9) scored single runs in the first two frames for the early advantage.
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Jensen Beach tied it in the second with a two-out, two-strike fly-ball single from Hunter Schock, who drove in Kyle Bauer and Wade Walton. The Falcons grabbed a 3-2 lead the next inning on a run-scoring groundout by Jesse Alker.
Despite giving up the tying run in the fourth, Jensen Beach felt confident after the top of the fifth when Mater’s Lazaro Rodriguez grounded hard to third baseman Lyon Richardson, who tagged third for a force and completed the double play when first baseman Wade Walton scooped his low throw to end a scoring threat.
However, Mater right-hander Perez, the No. 2 starter behind ace Kevin Fuentes (10-1), worked a perfect fifth. Perez retired 10 of the last 11 Falcons to finish the complete-game win.
MA 110 104 3 - 10 12 0
JB 021 000 0 - 3 4 3
WP: Perez. LP: Ogle. 2B: Alfonso, Perez (MAC), Bauer (JB). 3B: none. HR: none. Records: Mater Academy 18-9, Jensen Beach 21-6.
▪ Region 4-5A final — Archbishop McCarthy 2, Merritt Island 1: They didn’t do it the conventional way this time, having had to go on the road as a district runner-up, but the Mavericks are headed to the state final four again.
This after a nail-biting victory over Merritt Island in a regional final at McCarthy. The Mavericks (25-5), who won a state-record four consecutive state titles from 2010 to 2013, will make their sixth final-four appearance in the past seven years and head for Fort Myers to take on Tampa Robinson in a state semifinal on May 15.
McCarthy did it thanks to a small two-run rally in the third, a great two-hit, 10-strikeout pitching performance by Christian Demby and a fortunate umpire ruling in the top of the sixth when it appeared the Mustangs (21-9) had tied the score.
Merritt Island had already scored a run and had runners on the corners with one out when McCarthy catcher Jake Anchia fired a throw down to second base into center field. Ryan Lang trotted home with the tying run, but the home plate umpire ruled that Jackson Muldowney interfered with Anchia’s throw and was called out. Both runners returned to their previous bases, and Demby retired the final batter to preserve the lead.
▪ Region 4-2A final — Miami Brito 6, Miami Christian 1: Defending 2A state champion Miami Brito is heading back to state after a victory against Boca Raton Christian (15-13-1) at Florida Memorial University.
“We played with heart, passion and we are going to state now,” said freshman Alex Nino, who drove in an RBI with a triple in the sixth.
Pitcher Christian Crowe (7-2) went five innings and had six strikeouts. Richard Nunez closed out the win in the seventh.
Nino was at bat in the fourth with two outs and the bases loaded when two wild pitches scored a pair of runs for Brito.
The Panthers (16-11) will face Mater Academy in the state semifinals on Wednesday at 10 a.m. at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers.
BC 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 - 1 4 3
MB 1 0 1 2 0 2 X - 6 6 0
WP: Christian Crowe (7-2) LP: Blaize McSweeney. SV: Richard Nunez.
Nova appeals loss
The Nova baseball team has taken its fight to the legal system to correct what they perceive as an injustice.
St. Thomas Aquinas, which was awarded the win in a game interrupted by rain, understands Nova’s pain. But the Raiders are looking ahead to Tuesday’s Class 7A regional final against Royal Palm Beach.
Nova filed an emergency injunction to try to force the resumption of Tuesday night’s regional semifinal game against Aquinas. Nova was one strike away from defeat when Jose Oliva lifted a 2-2 pitch for a two-run homer, giving the Titans a 5-4 lead with two outs in the top of the seventh inning.
But while Oliva was rounding the bases, a light drizzle became a heavy thunderstorm, and the game was halted. Umpires awarded the game to the Raiders because they led at the end of the last complete inning, 4-2.
Nova coach Pat McQuaid said even if the legal challenge is unsuccessful, he would still like the rule to be changed so that playoff games are played to completion.