Marco Bolano has grown up playing on the Brito baseball team.
Since the sixth grade, he’s been a part of one of Miami-Dade County’s most consistent baseball programs.
Bolano made his final start in a Panthers’ uniform memorable Wednesday afternoon by leading Brito to a 7-0 win over Vero Beach Master’s Academy in a Class 2A state semifinal at JetBlue Park.
Bolano, a senior right-hander, struck out 11 and allowed four hits in a complete game shutout. It was his second shutout of the season and fourth complete game.
"I just felt really confident in all my pitches," Bolano said. "Everything was moving great and falling on track."
Brito (17-11), which overcame a seven-game losing streak midseason to return to state, will try to win its second consecutive state championship Thursday when it plays Tampa Bayshore Christian at 4 p.m.
A Brito win would clinch its seventh state title in school history, giving it the second-most championships of any Dade school behind Westminster Christian (10).
"We’re obviously very happy not just to be back but with this performance," Brito coach Pedro Guerra said. "We started this season hot and then hit a dry spell, but we’ve been able to battle back. We’re happy and sad to see Marco go because he’s been with us for so long."
Bolano threw 104 pitches and walked only one batter, and was particularly sharp early, striking out eight batters in the first three innings. He recorded five consecutive outs by strikeout at one point.
"I don’t think we had seen a pitcher that can locate his fastball on a consistent basis the way [Bolano] did," Master’s Academy catcher Justin Morton said. "He painted that corner low and outside to all our lefties. We hadn’t faced anyone that could do that."
The Patriots had two chances to break a scoreless stalemate before Brito took the lead for good.
With the game scoreless in the third, a fielding error by Brito shortstop Luis Nieves gave Master’s Academy runners on first and second with one out. Bolano struck out the next two batters to end the threat.
Morton hit a bloop double with one out in the fourth inning. Again, Bolano worked out of it getting the next two batters to ground out to first and line out to first.
Shortly after he collected those outs, Brito first baseman Onelio Perdomo delivered the big hit to get the Panthers’ offense going.
After Bolano drew a leadoff walk, Perdomo smacked a double off the left field wall at JetBlue Park that resembles the "Green Monster" at Boston’s Fenway Park to score Brito’s first run. The Panthers tacked on two more as Perdomo and Jan Carlos Hernandez came around to score.
Master’s Academy had a chance to cut into the deficit in the top of the sixth with two outs. But with a runner on first, right fielder Jacob Fowler hit a ball that landed in right field for a ground rule double. Bolano got Morton to pop up behind the plate to Hernandez to end the inning.
Christian Alvarez and Ariel Rocha each finished with two RBI as Brito put the game out of reach with four more runs in the sixth inning. Brito had only one hit in the inning, but capitalized on three walks, a hit batter and an error all contributing to the onslaught.
▪ Brito 7, Master’s Academy 0
MA: 000-000-0 -- -- 0-4-1
Brito: 000-304-x -- -- 7-6-1
WP: Marco Bolano (4-3). LP: Austin Dean (3-1).
If You Go
What: State baseball championships.
When: Through next Thursday.
Where: JetBlue Park, 11500 Fenway South Drive, Fort Myers.
Admission: $9 per day; Parking: $10 for cars, $50 for fan buses.
Wednesday’s results – Class 2A semifinals: Tampa Bayshore Christian 4, Lecanto Seven Rivers Christian 3 (11); Brito 7, Vero Beach Master’s Academy 0; Class 1A semifinals: Blountstown 7, Bratt Northview 4; Jasper Hamilton County vs. Williston, inc.
Thursday’s schedule – Class 2A final: Brito vs. Bayshore Christian, 4:05; Class 1A final: Blountstown vs. Williston-Hamilton County winner, 7:35.
Friday’s schedule – Class 5A semifinals: Archbishop McCarthy vs. Tampa Robinson, 10 a.m.; Inverness Citrus vs. Lynn Haven Mosley, 1; Class 6A semifinals: Ocala Forest vs. St. Johns Bartram Trail, 4; Mater Academy vs. Venice, 7.
Saturday’s schedule – Class 5A final: 4:05; Class 6A final: 7:35.
Monday’s schedule – Class 3A semifinals: Tallahassee North Florida Christian vs. Spring Hill Bishop McLaughlin, 10 a.m.; Westminster Christian vs. Fort Myers Canterbury, 1; Class 4A semifinals: Gulliver vs. Fort Myers Bishop Verot, 4; Jacksonville Trinity Christian vs. Bushnell South Sumter, 7.
Next Tuesday’s schedule – Class 3A final: 4:05; Class 4A final: 7:35.
Next Wednesday’s schedule – Class 7A semifinals: Plant City Durant vs. Oviedo, 10 a.m.; Royal Palm Beach vs. Sarasota-Naples Gulf Coast winner, 1; Class 8A semifinals: Columbus vs. Lake Worth Park Vista, 4; Orange City University vs. Orlando Timber Creek, 7.
Next Thursday’s schedule – Class 7A final: 4:05; Class 8A final: 7:35.