Appearing in its first state championship game in school history Saturday, Calvary Christian rattled off five runs on six hits in the top of the first inning alone and went on to claim the Class 4A state baseball title over Bishop Verot, winning 12-1 in five innings at JetBlue Park.
“What a fun game. What a start,” Eagles coach Alan Kunkel said. “To come out and give [pitcher] Noah [Yager] a five-run lead in the first inning and to let him settle in is much better than having to compete into the third and fourth inning. What a great thing for Calvary and these seniors.”
Where Yager tossed a complete game as the Eagles’ starting pitcher, allowing only four hits, the Vikings shuffled through arms from the beginning to the end.
Verot pulled starting pitcher Cade Middleton after facing just six Calvary batters in the top half of the first, then trailing 4-0. Pitcher Devyn White entered in sudden relief, giving up one run, but he was on the other end of an Eagles hit back to the mound that forced him out of the game in the top of the second inning.
Calvary Christian continued to take advantage of the Vikings’ pitching woes.
Drew Dwyer became the third Bishop Verot pitcher to take the hill in early spot duty. The Eagles continued their hot start, with Victor Pimentel driving in a run on a double. On a Dwyer wild pitch, Pimentel scored from third base to make it 7-0.
Again in the top of the third inning, a Dwyer pitch ricocheted off the backstop and allowed Christian Scott to score from third, giving the Eagles an 8-0 lead.
“From the beginning of the year, we all connected, it was like a family,” senior Max Guzman said. “We got together and there wasn’t any jealousy. We all came out here and worked hard to go win something. We all had a goal from the beginning of the year to win a ring.”
After giving up two hits and striking out two, Dwyer exited in the top of the fifth inning in favor of the Vikings’ fourth pitcher of the game, Michael Lemmerman.
The Eagles went on to add four runs in the inning and extend to a 12-0 advantage.
Finally, Bishop Verot broke through in the bottom of the fifth.
Gunner Byrd hit a sacrifice fly into right field, driving in Mike Green. But the Vikings’ first run of the game wasn’t enough to erase the 10-run rule as the game was decided early, officially crowning Calvary Christian as champion for the first time.
“I think for this school, it gives the school confidence that we’re pretty successful athletically now,” Kunkel said. “You compete, you go in day in and day out and you don’t know if you can get over that hump. I think it’s a testament to this whole community. It’s a testament to the kids. [Winning the championship] gives us something to take home.”
If you go
What: State baseball finals.
When: Wednesday through next Saturday (Classes 9A-5A).
Where: JetBlue Park, 11500 Fenway South Drive, Fort Myers.
Admission: $9 per day; Parking: $10 for cars; $50 for fan buses.
Saturday’s results – Class 4A final: Calvary Christian 12, Bishop Verot 1; Class 3A final: Canterbury vs. Santa Fe Catholic, inc.
Wednesday’s schedule – Class 6A semifinals: Naples Barron Collier vs. Lynn Haven Mosley, 10 a.m.; Southwest Ranches Archbishop McCarthy vs. Citra North Marion, 1; Class 5A semifinals: Jacksonville Bolles vs. Melbourne Central Catholic, 4; Miami Monsignor Pace vs. Orlando Bishop Moore, 7.
Thursday’s schedule – Class 7A semifinals: Venice vs. St. Johns Creekside, 10 a.m.; Belen Jesuit vs. Tampa Gaither, 1; Class 6A final: 4:05; Class 5A final: 7:35.
Friday’s schedule – Class 9A semifinals: Parkland Douglas vs. Winter Garden West Orange, 10 a.m.; Miami Columbus vs. Tampa Alonso, 1; Class 8A semifinals: Oviedo Hagerty vs. Ocala Forest, 4; Westland Hialeah vs. Tampa Steinbrenner, 7.
Next Saturday’s schedule – Class 7A final: 12:35; Class 9A final: 4:05; Class 8A final: 7:35.