It probably seemed like it took three hours to record that last out, but eventually the last out came for the Mater Academy baseball team as the Lions survived a final few tense-filled moments to hang on and edge St. Johns Creekside 4-3 in a Class 6A state semifinal Wednesday afternoon at JetBlue Park in Fort Meyers.
Leading 4-2 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh and a Creekside runner on second, Mater committed three consecutive infield errors at first, third and shortstop to load the bases for Creekside’s best hitter, Matt Allen.
When Allen hit a hard grounder to second baseman Alex Rodriguez, hearts were in throats but Rodriguez fielded it cleanly and coolly threw to first for the game-ending out.
“I guess the longest last out we’ve ever had to get,” said Mater coach Mike DiRosa. “I didn’t want to look nervous in the dugout because then your kids might get nervous. Everyone did a good job of staying cool, not panicking and getting that last out. Just a huge win, especially for the school as much as the program as we’re the first Mater team to make it to state in any sport.”
On the heels of state titles from South Dade, American and Brito, the Mater win moved Dade County’s record to a perfect 7-0 at the state tournament and puts the Lions into the Class 6A state title game on at 7:35 p.m. Thursday.
They will take on Winter Haven, which knocked off two-time defending state champion Venice 3-0 in its semifinal. A win by Mater would set a record for Miami-Dade County, which has never had four teams win state baseball titles in one year.
There were plenty of heroes for the Lions (21-8) on this day, but standing at the front of the line were a pair of seniors, pitcher and University of Miami-bound Mike Mediavilla along with first baseman Angel Ortiz.
After struggling in all three of his outings in the regional playoffs, Mediavilla came out with his best stuff on Wednesday firing a complete game, 112-pitch four hitter, giving up just one earned run.
“Knowing that it’s a win or go home situation and the atmosphere you’re in, knowing you’re at the state finals, and that every team here is really good, you need to come out with your best stuff and fortunately I did today,” said Mediavilla.
“I worked an entire week on everything I had been struggling with, trying to stay away from keeping the ball high and even going low if I had to, getting my curve ball over the plate and everything just worked out today.”
Having already come through with a clutch two-out, two-RBI hit late to lift his team past Pines Charter in the regional final, Ortiz did it again Wednesday as his two-out bases-loaded double down the left field line in the top of the fifth scored two runs to erase a 2-0 Creekside lead and pave the way for a three-run rally to give the Lions a lead they wouldn’t lose.
“The first thing that came into my mind was last week against Pines Charter and that it was almost the same exact situation,” said Ortiz. “My mentality was get the bat on the ball and send it somewhere and hopefully something good would happen. It’s just an amazing thing that I was able to do something like that again.”
Mediavilla then helped himself out when, following Ortiz’s double, he stepped up and lined an RBI base hit to center to put his team up 3-2. The Lions added what turned out to be an insurance run in the top of the sixth when Danny Reyes singled to left to lead off the inning, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and then scored when Deyvid Silva lofted a soft liner to right field that fell in for an RBI single.
After giving up a leadoff base hit to Tyler Willis in the bottom of the seventh, Mediavilla got Alex Linares to ground into a force out and struck out Brandon Bonsiero to put his team an out away from advancing before the error barrage began.
“It was definitely a tough few moments but when you’re a pitcher, you can’t afford to get rattled on the mound because if you get rattled, then your fielders see that you’re rattled and the next thing you know everybody else is nervous and uptight which only makes things worse,” said Mediavilla. “I knew I had to keep looking like I was confident and that the defense would make the play we needed and they did.
DiRosa confirmed that junior Kevin Fuentes will get the ball on the mound in Thursday night’s title game with “all arms on deck" after that, but said emphatically his ace pitcher would not be one of them.
“I’m just proud of this whole team from the coaching staff to the very last player at the end of the bench because everyone on this team has contributed in some way to get us to this point,” said Mediavilla. “It’s a blessing to be a part of this and I’m looking forward to tomorrow because, win or lose, I wouldn’t want to spend my last high school game on a field with any other bunch of guys.”
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The following Mourning boys’ water polo players earned honorable mention — Gabriel Ribeiro, Jacob Mosli, Ari Contramestre and Francisco Randazzo.
Palmetto boys’ volleyball player Joey Sensale earned honorable mention.
Ransom Everglades had several of its athletes sign at a ceremony this past week.
For cross-country, it was Franchesca Burgos (Tufts University); for volleyball, Nikki Colonna (Lynn), Lisette Tellez (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), for soccer; Jake Deuel (Emory), Francisco Tomasino (Northwestern), Charlsey Zyne (University of Miami); For tennis, Allegra Hanlon (Cornell), Claudia Mackenzie (Navy), Lindsey Mendelson (Columbia); for swimming, Alexa Kalandiak (Yale), Annie Valls (William & Mary); for water polo, Chelsea Johnson (Princeton), Harry Tafur (Harvard), for football, Ani Lovett (The College of Wooster); for basketball, Alonzo Mourning III (Georgetown), Nick Stern (Franklin & Marshall College); for crew, Daniel Stein (Harvard) and for sailing, Nathaniel Johansson (Dartmouth).
Florida Christian had two of its football players sign with colleges. Jeremiah Tejedor and Abdiel Cotto, both running backs, have signed letters of intent. Tejedor signed with Trinity International University in Chicago, and Cotto signed with Sterling College in Kansas.
The Florida Athletic Coaches Association released its All-State selections for boys’ soccer by district. Players represented from South Florida in Class 5A were: Sunset’s Eddy Pineiro, Southwest’s Bryan Plasencia and Samir Sierra. In Class 4A, it was Mourning’s Soma Gubasci and Belen’s Carlos Acevedo. In Class 3A, it was Doral’s Kevin Larrau. In Class 2A, it was Cardinal Gibbons’ Nick Huber and Tony Segota, Gulliver’s Jesus Bolivar and Ransom’s Jake Deuel and Adrian Grant-Alfieri. And in Class 1A, it was Miami Country Day’s Pablo Mejia, Divine Savior’s Matheus Pereira and Palmer Trinity’s Daniel DuFeu.
Intrasquad scrimmage at Edison, 3
Deerfield Beach at Braddock, 3:30
South Dade at Coral Gables, 4
South Plantation at Killian, 4:30
Intrasquad scrimmage at St. Thomas Aquinas, 6
North Miami vs. Carol City (Traz), 7
Norland at Coconut Creek, 7
Miami Beach at South Broward, 7
Southridge at Monsignor Pace, 7
Douglas at Cardinal Gibbons, 7
Stranahan vs. Plantation (PAL), 7
Homestead at McArthur, 7
Hollywood Hills at Cooper City, 7
Naples Palmetto Ridge at Pines Charter, 7
Scheck Hillel at Miami Country Day, 7
Miami Springs at Reagan, 3:30
Key West vs. Keys Gate (Harris), 4
Fort Pierce Westwood at Hialeah Gardens, 4:30
Boyd Anderson at Columbus, 5:30
Miramar at Lake Wales, 7
Piper at Port St. Lucie, 7
Jackson at Blanche Ely, 7