A combination of great pitching and a single swing of the bat proved enough for the Cardinal Gibbons baseball team on Saturday.
Junior left-handed pitcher Timothy Manning tossed a three-hitter and struck out six to lead the Chiefs to a 1-0 victory over North Broward Prep in a Class 5A regional semifinal.
And it was senior catcher Kevin Hirsch that provided the lone run with a first-pitch lead-off home run over the left-field fence in the bottom of the second inning for the game winner.
The Chiefs (21-7) advance to their first regional final since 2007 and will play the Monsignor Pace/Key West winner on Wednesday. Gibbons hasn’t advanced to the state tournament since 1992. Their lone state championship came in 1987 under former long-time coach George Petik.
“It was important to get the lead in the game,” said Cardinal Gibbons coach Jason Hamilton. “You want your opponent to play from behind. In my wildest dreams I never thought that the 1-0 lead in the second would hold up.
“It was nice to place with the lead in a regional game.”
Manning (7-2) retired the first 14 Eagles batters he faced before allowing his first hit to Gabriel Esquivel with two outs in the top of the fifth. Liam Cogswell followed with a single and North Broward Prep (17-10) had its first base runner in scoring position.
Manning ended the threat by striking out Jonah Diaz.
With two outs and two on, Manning got some needed defensive support when a Logan Clyatt liner to center was snagged by a diving freshman centerfielder Brice Montiel to preserve the one-run lead.
“I knew this was going to be a battle, because the kid on the other side has a great arm,” said Manning. “The defense was balling today and the catch that Brice made was huge.
“I was in my zone today and this victory was everything. To take them down today mattered.”
The victory was the third straight by Gibbons over North Broward after losing the first meeting 4-0 on March 26. Manning pitched all for games against the Eagles this season.
As for the homer...
“I was looking for a good pitch to hit,” said Hirsch. “It was a slider up and it went out. I’m glad that it did. I’m glad I was able to step today and get it done.”
Despite giving up the home run, North Broward junior starter Dustin Snyder went six innings, allowed only three hits, while ending the game by getting the final 11 batters he faced out.