Mater Academy has had a plethora of talented teams and players come through its baseball program over its 12 years of existence, but the Lions had never reached the state tournament.
Down 4-0 in the sixth inning of the Region 4-6A final, it didn't look like Tuesday would be the night that would change.
But behind a six-run sixth inning, Mater Academy advanced to the state final four for the first time with a 6-4 win against Pembroke Pines Charter in a rematch of a regional quarterfinal last season at Flamingo Park.
“Words can't explain it. These guys worked their butt off every day for this moment,” coach Michael DiRosa said. “It took every bit of our team to pull together to win this game.”
Mater (23-5) will face the winner of the game between Pensacola Escambia and St. John’s Creekside in the state semifinals on May 21 at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers.
Down 4-3, first baseman Angel Ortiz hit a two-run single up the middle with two outs and the bases loaded to give Mater the lead. Senior Michael Mediavilla then singled through the left side to bring home another.
“We just all noticed that there’s six outs left, it’s win or go home at this point,” Mediavilla said. “We have a team like that, just giving everything they got, fighting with every ounce they got. That’s what winners are.”
Reliever Danny Fuentes earned the win by pitching the three shutout innings. He struck out Peter Dourvetakis looking to end it and bring his fellow Lions rushing onto the mound to celebrate with him.
“That's the best feeling ever,” Fuentes said. “We knew we just needed to close it out — one last inning.”
In control the whole game, Pines Charter pitching collapsed in the sixth, walking four batters and drilling two. When lead-off hitter Raul Frias was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded it brought home the Lions’ third run. A wild pitch scored a run earlier in the frame.
“Things happen. I don’t want to say collapsed, but we just didn’t make the plays when we had to,” Pines Charter coach Carlos Iglesias said. “At this point, one inning makes a difference.”
Mediavilla, the Mater starter and UM recruit struggled with his command, walking six in four innings to allow four runs — three of them earned — on three hits. He struck out five.
Derick Garcia went 5 2/3 for the Jaguars (19-5), allowing three earned runs on five hits, five walks and four strikeouts. He was shutting out Mater until the sixth, and usually reliable reliever Danny Melgarejo was hit with the loss after allowing three more to score behind Garcia.
Pines Charter scored first on an RBI single from shortstop Anthony Gomez in the first inning.
The Jaguars added two in the second — first on a sacrifice fly from center fielder Jake Jacobs and then No. 9 hitter Anthony Nogueiras scored on a passed ball. Nogueiras scored again in the fourth on a wild pitch.
MA 0 0 0 0 0 6 0 — 6 7 1
PC 1 2 0 1 0 0 0 — 4 5 1