Senior pitcher Erik Manoah was at the heart of South Dade’s 11-0 start earlier this season.
And Thursday afternoon, the Bucs’ ace anchored the team as it continued to recapture its momentum following a difficult month of April.
Manoah, an FIU signee, tossed a four-hitter, walking only one batter and striking out 12 to shut out host Columbus 3-0 in a Region 4-8A quarterfinal.
It was South Dade’s first regional playoff win in three years.
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The Bucs (19-6) will take on Killian for the fourth time this season in a regional semifinal at the Cougars home field Tuesday at 4 p.m. Killian (24-4), a winner of seven in a row, scored a 6-5 walk-off win against Coral Gables on Thursday and leads the season series against South Dade 2-1, winning the past two meetings.
“To come here and shut out a team like Columbus and get 10 hits … I couldn’t be happier,” South Dade coach Fred Burnside said. “We hit a dry spell in recent weeks, but I think we’re back on track. We know our road is tough.”
Manoah’s brother, Alek, a sophomore first baseman, and sophomore catcher Gabriel Cruz each had three hits to help provide Erik Manoah with all the run support he would need by the second inning. Cruz drove in two early runs off Columbus junior ace Matt Marini, who had entered the game undefeated.
“I feel electric right now, and everything is going our way,” Manoah said. “We expected a dogfight, but we played our baseball and we got it done.”
Manoah, who improved to 8-2 for the season, didn’t look like a pitcher who had just thrown seven innings in sweltering 90-degree heat Thursday afternoon. Each inning, Manoah continued to keep Columbus hitters off balance with a solid curveball and off-speed pitches. Columbus (22-6) was unable to muster a hit after the third inning.
The Bucs went just 7-6 after that 11-0 start to the season but have begun to hit more consistently in recent weeks.
“We had the ball rolling, and coach [Burnside] always said, ‘Let’s not stop it,’ ” Manoah said.
“As a good team that we are, we’ve gotten over the hump and whoever is playing the best now is what counts.
“The run support gave me confidence, and that’s what we have to do to be a state-championship team.”
SD 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 – 3-10-1
COL 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 0-4-0
WP: Erik Manoah (8-2). LP: Matt Marini (10-1).