Westminster Christian knows how difficult its lineup can make life for pitchers in its home ball park.
Led by senior catcher and major league prospect M.J. Melendez, the Warriors jumped all over University School pitcher Buddy Hayward early scoring six runs over the first four innings on their way to a 7-1 victory.
Westminster Christian (23-5), which is seeking a state-record 12th state title, advanced to the Region 4-4A baseball final that it will host Tuesday at 4 p.m. against Calvary Christian.
NSU University School (25-4), which won its first 18 games this season, made its first regional appearance since 2002.
“Any time you can get to a regional semifinal game you face a great team,” Westminster Christian coach Emil Castellanos said. “We beat a good pitcher today and the home run started a little bit of a fire.”
The Eagles (22-7), who beat Palmer Trinity 5-1 on Wednesday, are the reigning Class 4A state champions and feature their own talented pitching staff led by University of Florida signee Christian Scott.
“We try to put the hardest schedule in the country together so these guys get to face everyone’s No. 1 [pitcher],” Castellanos said. “We’re going to see that all the way through and we have to beat them if we want to win it all.”
Melendez got things rolling in the first when he clocked a two-run home run for his eighth of the season.
Melendez finished with four RBI after he drove in two more on a double in the fourth that prompted Hayward’s exit from the game. Luis Aviles followed with a double that gave Westminster a 6-0 lead.
Westminster also got a quality start out of freshman Jamar Fairweather (6-1), who gave up only two hits through the first five innings, and allowed only one run in 6 1/3 innings to record the win.
“Jamar goes after it and he has a lot of heart and a lot of poise and pitched an unbelievable game,” Castellanos said.
University’s Andrew Grinberg was 2 for 3 with a double and an RBI, scoring Josh LaPrest, and Buddy Hayward was 2 for 2.
▪ Class 4A Region Semifinal: Calvary Christian 5, Palmer Trinity 1: Winning pitcher Jake Eder, a lefty, allowed one hit, two walks and struck out 12 in six shutout innings. Jake Holland went 3 for 3 with two doubles and three RBI.
▪ Class 3A Region Semifinal: Archbishop Carroll 9, Fort Pierce-John Carroll 3: Winning pitcher Sal Lorenzo went the distance, allowing three runs (one earned) on six hits while striking out six.
The Bulldogs (25-2) scored five times in the bottom of the first to set the tone. They added runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings. Trailing 8-0, John Carroll (12-14) scored three times in the fifth for its only runs.
Lorenzo helped his cause by going went 1 for 2, with two walks, a run and two RBI. Chris Fernandez was 1 for 1 with three walks and two RBI, and Ricky Alvarez was 2 for 3 with a double, a home run and two runs.
Archbishop Carroll advances to a region final on Tuesday against Highlands Christian, which beat Sagemont 3-0 on Wednesday.
▪ Class 3A Region Semifinal: Highlands Christian 3, Sagemont 0: Sagemont starter Jared Chirino allowed just one hit through five innings, before running into trouble in the sixth. The Lions finished the season 10-12.
▪ Class 2A Region Semifinal: Miami Christian 5, Lake Worth Christian 0: The host Victors scored twice in the bottom of the first and never looked back. They added insurance runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Miami Christian plays Tuesday in a region final against the winner of Brito/Lake Worth-Trinity Christian.