In a scoreless Class 7A state semifinal, pinch-runner Jillian Healy stood at first base, telling herself she needed to make it home on a hit.
She did just that on Samantha Sharkey’s RBI double to right-center in the ninth inning that gave St. Thomas Aquinas a 1-0 walk-off victory over Harmony on Wednesday night at Vero Beach Sports Village.
“That moment before everything — everything you’ve been trying to accomplish for the season happens, and it’s just this big buildup as soon as you cross the plate,” Healy said. “It’s just the greatest moment ever.”
St. Thomas (21-5) will face Freedom in the final at 7:05 p.m. Thursday.
Healy came in to run for Gwen Svekis, who started the rally with a one-out single to left off Aleshia Ocasio (13-3). Sharkey followed with her shot into the gap, redeeming an inning-ending double play she hit into in the sixth when she popped up a bunt with a runner at third.
“I definitely felt like it was a comeback from a big — not a mistake — but I guess it was meant to be that way,” said Sharkey, who went 1 for 3.
Meghan King (10-4) pitched nine scoreless innings, striking out four and scattering three hits. Ocasio fanned 12 over her nine innings, allowing six hits.
The Longhorns (26-4) stranded nine runners and wasted a bases-loaded opportunity in the sixth.
After King retired nine in a row, Ocasio produced a bunt hit with one out. Briane Kimura followed by reaching on an error. Both runners moved up a base on an illegal pitch. Lauren Harris walked before pinch-hitter Brooke Harris popped out to third and Madison Nichols grounded out to first.
“I thought it was a pitcher’s game, and I knew that the first run would win the game,” King said. “I thought that out by the fourth inning.”
Harmony ran itself out of a run in the eighth when Svekis applied the tag on Ocasio from Victoria Stock’s throw from center field.
Ocasio singled to begin the frame and tagged up on a flyout to reach second. On Lauren Harris’ single up the middle, her aggressive baserunning didn’t pay off the second time. Though she beat the throw, Svekis appeared to block the plate for the out.
“I took a big gamble and sent her, got her thrown out at the plate,” coach Jeff Fiorelli said. “I’ll second-guess myself forever, but I thought I needed to make something happen.”
Coach Bryan Baucom said he got goose bumps from the similarities between this year’s team and the one that captured a state title in 2003. Both squads won by identical scores in a pitcher’s duel.
“It’s wonderful,” Baucom said. “I can’t describe the feeling. It’s like 2003 all over again. We tried to squeeze to win the game; it didn’t work. … It’s like everything’s coming back.”