With a pair of aces, Calvary Christian’s baseball team felt nearly invincible this season whenever Jake Eder or Christian Scott took the mound.
The SEC school-bound pitching duo pitched well again Friday night, putting the Eagles within three outs of playing for another state championship.
It only took seven pitches for all of it to unravel.
Leading by two runs entering the seventh and final inning, Scott gave up three runs on three hits, including a pair of extra-base hits as Pensacola Catholic rallied to beat Calvary Christian 4-3 in a Class 4A state semifinal at Hammond Stadium.
“If you can beat our top two arms, you have a heck of a ball club,” Calvary Christian coach Alan Kunkel said. “We had what we wanted and they put some baseballs in play late and they hit them hard.”
Crusaders catcher Cole Moore hit Scott’s second pitch of the seventh up the middle for a single.
University of Mississippi signee Carl Gindl hit the first pitch he saw for a double to left.
West Florida signee Matthew Estrada hit the second pitch he saw down the right field line for a two-run, game-tying triple.
University of Tennessee signee Donovan Benoit belted a deep sacrifice fly to score Estrada and give Pensacola Catholic the lead.
“I just missed some spots with my off-speed pitches,” Scott said. “I left a changeup high and [Gindl] hit it for a double. The first pitch of the inning was a fastball I left up a little bit. The triple down the line was a curveball I left up, too. Just the emotion and adrenaline and the rush I left a couple of pitches up and they took advantage of it.”
Eder, a senior and Vanderbilt signee who transferred to Calvary Christian (23-8) from Delray Beach Atlantic, struck out eight and gave up only one hit and one in five innings despite five walks.
Scott, a junior and University of Florida commitment, entered the game in the sixth in relief of Eder after he walked the first two batters. Despite an infield single and a couple of errors, Scott bailed out the Eagles to preserve the lead at 2-1.
Calvary Christian added an insurance run in the bottom half when Victor Pimentel singled to lead off and came around to score three batters later on an a fly ball in short center field that was dropped, but later ruled an infield fly.
But the Eagles squandered several chances to put the game out of reach, leaving nine on base.
Scott tripled to center to start the fourth and scored on a sac fly by Pimentel to give Calvary a 2-0 lead. But the Eagles left the bases loaded that inning when Estrada entered in relief and induced Georgie De La Fe to ground into a double play.
Calvary stranded three more in the fifth when Estrada struck out Cameron Stadler with the bases loaded.
“I think we got away a little bit from our offensive approach and didn’t capitalize late and weren’t able to put them away,” Kunkel said. “There was no doubt in their minds they were out of the game.”