The Stoneman Douglas baseball team had the “baseball gods looking out” for them Tuesday as coach Todd Fitzgerald said after the nationally-ranked Eagles pulled out a dramatic 2-1 win in nine innings over visiting West Broward in a Region 4-9A semifinal.
The game-winning run came in when West Broward pitcher Anthony Molina was called for a balk with a runner on third and one out.
Josh Miaskowksi, who just moments earlier tripled into the left field corner to set things up, trotted home and stomped on home plate to end it.
“We were about to put the squeeze play on but as it turned out we didn’t need it,” said Miaskowski, who was really the hero in center as two spectacular catches in the sixth and eighth kept West Broward (14-8) from scoring.
“There’s never a ball that comes off a bat that I don’t think I can get to and fortunately I managed to track those two down.”
The big break Fitzgerald referred to came in the last of the sixth. Down 1-0 with two outs and nobody on, the Eagles were down to their final four outs after been stymied all day by West Broward starter Bryan Wilcox.
First came a routine groundball to shortstop off the bat of Jonathan Pino. But a low throw to first in the dirt couldn’t be handled and Pino was safe. After pinch-runner Joey Bullion stole second, John McKenna hit a dribbler toward first that was going foul.
Only the ball hit a divot in the dirt and bounced fair past first baseman Julian Burgess and into shallow right field. Second baseman Leo Torres got to it and tried to throw out Burgess at first but was too late. Meanwhile Bullion never slowed down rounding third and scored, tying the score.
“The ball clearly was going foul and just bounced back fair,” said Fitzgerald. “What a ball game and what a tough way for West Broward to go out. They’re a great team and to have your season end on a balk, that’s a really tough way to go out as we’ve been on that end as well.”
The win puts the Eagles (24-2), who despite some great teams over the years have never made it to the final four, into their third consecutive regional final where they will travel to Palm Beach to take on either Park Vista or Jupiter. Both of Douglas’ past regional final losses came to Park Vista.
With University of Miami coach Jim Morris looking on as two Douglas kids are UM commits including starting pitcher Brandon Kaminer — Colton Welker is the other — Kaminer gave up one unearned run in the top of the first.
Said Fitzgerald who coached American Heritage to a state title in 2008: “It’ll be the third straight regional final for these kids and hopefully we can make that next step and get these kids to JetBlue [Park in Fort Myers] because they deserve it and have earned it.”
Six teams from Miami-Dade and Broward counties will begin their quest for a state softball championship Wednesday afternoon at the state tournament held at Dodgertown in Vero Beach.
Westminster Christian looks for its first title since 2014 when it plays Monteverde in a Class 4A semifinal Wednesday at 4:50 p.m. With a win, the Warriors would play for the 4A crown on Thursday.
The other five South Florida teams – four from Broward and Palmetto – get their chance on Friday starting with Coral Springs Charter looking to follow up last year’s 4A title with a 5A championship at 9:50 a.m. American Heritage (Class 6A), St. Thomas Aquinas (8A), Western (9A) and Palmetto (9A) will follow.
Western and Palmetto are in separate brackets but wins by both Friday would set up an all-South Florida title game on Saturday.
IF YOU GO
What: Florida state softball finals.
When: Wednesday through Saturday.
Where: Historic Dodgertown, 3901 26th St., Vero Beach.
Admission: $9 per session; Parking: $10 for cars; $25 for buses.
2015 state champions – Class 8A: Lithia Newsome; 7A: Cantonment Tate; 6A: Ocala Forest; 5A: Baker County; 4A: Coral Springs Charter; 3A: Lakeland Christian; 2A: Monticello Aucilla Christian; 1A: Chiefland.
Wednesday’s schedule – Class 2A semifinals: St. Petersburg Canterbury vs. Monticello Aucilla Christian, 10:35 a.m.; Boca Raton Grandview Prep vs. Mount Dora Christian, 11:55 a.m.; Class 1A semifinals: Wewahitchka vs. Lake Butler Union County, 1:05; Chiefland vs. Franklin County, 2:20; Class 4A semifinals: Fort Myers Bishop Verot vs. Jacksonville Trinity Christian, 3:35; Westminster Christian vs. Montverde Academy, 4:50; Class 3A semifinals: Jacksonville University Christian vs. St. Petersburg Admiral Farragut, 6:05; Fort Pierce John Carroll vs. Lakeland Christian, 7:20.
Thursday’s schedule – Class 2A final: 11:05 a.m.; Class 1A final: 1:35; Class 4A final: 4:35; Class 3A final: 7:05.
Friday’s schedule – Class 5A semifinals: Bradenton Bayshore vs. Glen St. Mary Baker County, 8:35 a.m.; Coral Springs Charter vs. Bushnell South Sumter, 9:50 a.m.; Class 6A semifinals: Panama City Beach Arnold vs. Auburndale, 11:05 a.m.; American Heritage vs. Land O’Lakes, 12:20; Class 7A semifinals: Gainesville vs. Bradenton Braden River, 1:35; Stuart South Fork vs. Eagle Lake Lake Region, 2:50; Class 8A semifinals: Dover Strawberry Crest vs. Bartow, 4:05; St. Thomas Aquinas vs. Clearwater Countryside, 5:20; 9A semifinals: Western vs. Winter Garden West Orange, 6:35; Palmetto vs. Tampa Alonso, 7:50.
Saturday’s schedule – Class 5A final: 10:05 a.m.; Class 6A final: 12:35; Class 7A final: 3:05; Class 8A final: 5:35; Class 9A final: 8:05.