FORT MYERS – Archbishop McCarthy’s baseball team could have made excuses this season had it not won a state title.
According to the Mavericks, that’s not their way.
After having its state record four-year championship streak snapped last season, a largely sophomore-driven squad culminated its season Saturday with a 3-0 victory over Lynn Haven Mosley in the Class 5A final to win McCarthy’s fifth state title in the past six seasons.
"We never feel we are rebuilding at McCarthy, just reloading," McCarthy coach Rich Bielski said. "This team of all the teams we’ve had here had the biggest challenge. We lost an amazing senior class last year that was one of the most talented and most heralded with all the championships they won. These guys led this team back and they were so determined to live up to the expectations of their predecessors."
McCarthy (27-5) became the first baseball team statewide to win five state titles in six years, and increased its already Broward County-best state championship total.
And it could just be the beginning of a new championship streak with eight sophomores and four juniors on its roster.
"It’s good that we got this experience this season because next year it will just be normal for us," McCarthy sophomore first baseman said. "This is what we’re supposed to do and we’ll work toward it as best we can."
Bielski, who won two state titles at Hialeah in 2001 and 2002, has been McCarthy’s coach for all five championships, giving him the second-most among coaches statewide behind Rich Hofman’s 10.
"I think what I treasure the most is the camaraderie between my players and coaches," Bielski said. "God has blessed me with the chance to develop many great relationships over the years through baseball and he’s blessed me with many sons and each year I meet more and I love being around the kids and baseball and we share that passion for the game."
Even a near two-hour lightning delay, that started with McCarthy leading 2-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning with the bases loaded and no outs, couldn’t deter the Mavericks. Senior pitcher Christian Demby, an N.C. State signee, threw six scoreless innings, struck out five and allowed only four hits and one walk.
Demby wanted to keep pitching after the long delay, but McCarthy’s coaches naturally chose not to risk him returning to avoid potential injury.
"Chris wanted the ball and was telling us he could finish this," Bielski said. "We told him we knew he could, but you are going to go on to do bigger and better things down the road. The high school state championship was everything right now. But he’s going to go on to N.C. State and have a pro career and we weren’t going to take any chances with that."
McCarthy scored a run in the first on an RBI single by Toral and in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by designated hitter Ubaldo Lopez. They added a run once play resumed on a sacrifice fly ball by third baseman Fred Matos.
Bielski then called upon junior Roger Garcia to close the game. Garcia struck out one in a perfect seventh.
Another of McCarthy’s senior leaders – catcher Jake Anchia – caught the final out on a pop up in foul territory, sparking the celebration McCarthy.
"One of our starters last year Brian Gonzalez told me, ‘You are going to lead this team this season," Anchia said. "The second I caught that ball I had flashes of Pablo Sandoval when he won the World Series and wanted to fall back, but I knew my team was that way and I just threw my glove and started celebrating."
MSL 000 000 0 – 0 4 0
AM 100 101 x – 3 7 1
WP: Christian Demby (4-0). LP: J.J. Bleday (4-1). SV: Roger Garcia (2).
IF YOU GO
What: The state baseball championships.
When: Through Thursday.
Where: jetBlue Park, 11500 Fenway South Drive, Fort Myers.
Admission: $9 per day; Parking: $10 for cars, $50 for fan buses.
Saturday’s results – Class 5A final: Archbishop McCarthy 3, Lynn Haven Mosley 0; Class 6A final: Venice vs. St. Johns Bartram Trail, inc.
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.
Tuesday’s schedule – Class 3A final: 4:05; Class 4A final: 7:35.
Wednesday’s schedule – Class 7A semifinals: Plant City Durant vs. Oviedo, 10 a.m.; Royal Palm Beach vs. Sarasota, 1; Class 8A semifinals: Columbus vs. Lake Worth Park Vista, 4; Orange City University vs. Orlando Timber Creek, 7.
Thursday’s schedule – Class 7A final: 4:05; Class 8A final: 7:35.