Senior pitcher Erik Manoah had started every South Dade baseball victory in this year’s regional playoffs.
On Friday night, Manoah helped finish the school’s most meaningful win in nearly four decades.
Only three days removed from his previous start against Miami Killian, Manoah couldn’t start, but he found other ways to contribute to South Dade’s 5-3 comeback win over host Pembroke Pines Flanagan, the nation’s second-ranked baseball team by Baseball America, in the Region 4-8A final.
“My arm is built to last, and I just fast-forwarded my routine in case they needed me in a situation like this,” Manoah said. “I wanted the ball. I went out there and just did what I’ve been doing all year.”
Manoah hit the go-ahead, two-run home run in the top of the sixth that put South Dade (21-6) ahead 4-3, and later pitched two scoreless innings in relief to pick up a save. Manoah struck out three while pitching on two days’ rest after a complete-game, two-hit effort in the regional semifinals against Killian that followed a four-hitter against Columbus in the quarterfinal round.
South Dade secured its first berth in the state final four since 1976 and will play DeLand next Friday in a Class 8A state semifinal at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers.
“This is real special,” South Dade coach Fred Burnside said.
“This group has been kind of a mystery after we started out so good and then hit that bad patch mid-season. I’m proud to be a part of this community now, and this win is for everyone.”
The Bucs denied Flanagan (24-2) its first trip to state since 2010 and dealt starting pitcher Gentry Fortuno his first high school defeat in his three-year career with the Falcons.
Fortuno gave up a first-inning home run to South Dade junior second baseman Artie Paula but appeared to settle down for the next few frames.
After Flanagan tied the game at 1 in the third, first baseman Ryan Dodge put the Falcons in front 3-1 with a two-run home run in the fourth.
Junior outfielder Sergio Lopez played a pivotal role in bringing South Dade back, hitting a solo home run in the fifth that swung the momentum back in the Bucs’ favor. Lopez later hit a sacrifice fly that scored pinc-runner Jahzeel Clarit for an insurance run in the top of the seventh.
SD 100 013 0 — 5 7 0
FL 001 200 0 — 3 5 0
A rare fielding hesitation might have cost Douglas a shot at the state final four against heavily favored Park Vista.
With a runner on first and third and two outs in the fifth, Douglas third baseman Devin Conn fielded a hopper and motioned to first. Then he made the split-decisicion throw to second that was dropped, allowing the deciding go-ahead run to score in Park Vista’s victory at Park Vista in Boynton Beach.
“There’s no excuses; the second baseman [Tyler Norris] should have made the catch,” Douglas coach Steve Fitzgerald said. “It was still a good game. Now our guys are getting a taste of what it’s like. It’s only the beginning for us.”
Park Vista (26-3) started right-handed ace Austin Smith (12-0), who came into the game allowing just one earned run the entire season. The Eagles (18-9) were up to the task early, taking a 2-0 lead in the top of the first.
D 200 010 0 — 3 6 2
PV 003 010 x — 4 5 1
•Region 4-7A final — American 2, Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer 0:
Patriots players chanted “two more” following the victory over Dwyer at American Senior High School. “Two more” refers to the amount of wins American will need to become state champions.
The Patriots (24-5) will face Chiles (Tallahassee) or Oviedo in the state semifinal on May 16 at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers.
Both American runs came in the second inning on RBI singles by Kevin Williams and Rodney Williams.
DWY 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 2 2
AME 0 2 0 0 0 0 X — 2 6 0
•Region 4-4A final — North Broward Prep 5, Key West 4:
Mack Nathanson’s eyes expanded as a 1-2 fastball fell into the zone.
His forearms flinched and his wrists revolved rapidly as the crowd’s silence was trumped by the prominent ping of his walk-off home run to left field in North Broward Prep’s win over Key West.
The Eagles (20-9) took a 2-0 lead in the second inning on an RBI double and a sacrifice fly.
Lefty Anthony Masiello shut down the Conchs in the top of the seventh to set up Nathanson’s critical crush.
KW 003 100 0 — 4 5 1
NBP 021 001 1 — 5 6 0