The first tickets to next week’s state baseball tournament in Fort Myers will be punched Friday as some of South Florida and the country’s best teams play in the regional finals.
Among the best matchups is a clash between 10-time state champion Miami Westminster Christian and Coral Springs Christian, which is led by Major League prospect pitcher Touki Toussaint and catcher Benito Santiago.
This and four other matchups highlight Friday’s slate.
Region 4-3A final — Coral Springs Christian (21-7) at Westminster Christian (25-4):Toussaint, a 6-2 right-handed phenom, is expected to start against the Warriors, who enter the game on an eight-game winning streak and hitting near .360 as a team. Coral Springs Christian is in the regional finals for the second consecutive season, but is hoping to erase the painful memory of last year’s 13-12 loss in this round to Florida Christian in which the Crusaders let an early 10-0 lead slip away.
Westminster Christian is vying to get back to state for the first time in three seasons and win its first championship since winning back-to-back in 2009-10.
Region 4-8A final — South Dade (20-6) at Flanagan (24-1): The No. 2-ranked high school baseball team in the nation, according to Baseball America, has been living dangerously through the first two rounds of the playoffs.
But Pembroke Pines Flanagan faces an opponent Friday it knows it can’t start slow against if it hopes to reach state for the first time since winning its third championship in 2010.
The Falcons have been trying to save star pitcher Gentry Fortuno — still undefeated for his three-year career at Flanagan — for this matchup although he pitched the final two innings in relief against Miami High Tuesday.
South Dade has won its past two on the strength of gems by senior Erik Manoah, but after back-to-back complete games including a two-hitter against Miami Killian Tuesday, Manoah will not start against Flanagan.
The Bucs will likely start junior righty Jose Gorordo (6-0, 1.75 ERA) as they try to advance to state for the first time since 1976.
Region 3-8A final at West Boynton Park – Douglas (18-8) vs. Lake Worth Park Vista (25-3): The Eagles will try to reach the state finals for the first time, but will undoubtedly be an underdog when they take on a Park Vista team trying to make it for the first time since 2011.
Region 4-7A final – Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer (19-7) at American (23-5), 4 p.m.: The Patriots are vying for back-to-back trips to state and might get it if they continue to get solid pitching and hitting.
Steven Alvarez hit two home runs in Tuesday’s win over St. Thomas Aquinas. Dwyer is in its first-ever regional final.
Region 4-4A final – Key West (26-3-1) at North Broward Prep (19-9): The Conchs hold a state-record 11 state championships and have won 11 games in a row.
They’ll leave the friendly confines of Key West to face a North Broward Prep squad that just survived a 3-2, eight-inning thriller against Chaminade-Madonna to advance to its first regional final since 2011 — the only time the Eagles made it to state.
NOTE: All games scheduled for 7 p.m. unless noted.
The Florida Association of Basketball Coaches announced its state Players and Coaches of the Year Thursday.
The following were South Florida Players of the Year that led their respective teams to state championships:
Class 6A boys: Miami Norland’s Zachary Johnson; Class 5A boys: Plantation American Heritage’s Drake Lamont; Class 3A boys: Weston Sagemont’s Prince Ali.
Class 8A girls: Miami High’s Beatrice Mompremier; Class 3A girls: Miami Country Day’s Danielle Minott.
The following were South Florida Coaches of the Year that led their respective teams to state championships:
Class 5A boys: Plantation American Heritage’s Charles Stephenson; Class 3A boys: Sagemont’s Adam Ross.
Class 8A girls: Miami High’s Sam Baumgarten; Class 3A girls: Miami Country Day’s Ochiel Swaby.
Region 4-8A final: South Dade at Flanagan, 7
Region 4-7A final: Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer at American, 4
Region 4-4A final: Key West at North Broward Prep, 7
Region 4-3A final: Coral Springs Christian at Westminster Christian, 4
Region 4-6A final at Pines Flamingo Park: Mater Academy vs. Pines Charter, 7
Region 4-2A final: Brito at Zion Lutheran, 4