Add Tuesday night’s regional championship to the long list of classic postseason games played between rivals Nova and St. Thomas Aquinas.
It may just belong in a class by itself.
After saving the game for his team with a wall-crashing catch in the top of the 12th, Nova junior Isaiah Goodman’s run-scoring single finally ended things as the host Titans beat Aquinas 4-3 in the bottom of the 12th in front of a packed house at Pat McQuaid Field.
Not only did the win snap an 11-game losing streak to the Raiders, but Nova (24-3) is headed back to the state final four in Fort Myers.
The game came close to four hours to complete.
“That was a great high school baseball game,” an emotional McQuaid said afterward.
“It had been 11 games, but that’s the rivalry. This was high school baseball at its finest. We both made a lot of great plays.”
Nova was down to its final out in the seventh when Trace Moore sent a shot through the infield, bringing Gabe Paulson home to tie the score at 3.
Moore started the game on the mound and ended up pitching nine innings, seemingly only leaving because of a state-mandated pitch limit.
“I knew I had to get that ball through the hole, bring in a run,” Moore said of his game-tying hit.
In the top of the 12th, Aquinas (22-6) had a runner on with one out when Goodman completely robbed Cade Fergus of at least a double and the Raiders of the go-ahead run as Jaret Kappelman was already around second when Goodman made the leaping grab.
Kappelman had to spin around and a good throw from Goodman chased him back.
In the bottom of the inning, Taylor Mateo walked with one out, moved to second and raced home on Goodman’s single.
“We’re all just working together,” he said. “We’re pretty fired up.”
The Raiders opened the scoring in the second with a two-run rally with two outs.
Kyle Benson kicked things off with a double off the wall in left, scoring on a single from Cade Fergus. The Raiders then made it 2-0 on another double off the wall from Andres Antonini.
Aquinas tacked on a third run in the third on a single through the infield from Chris Ruckdeschel.
Nova had a number of runners in scoring position, but didn’t plate its first run until the fourth when pinch-runner Asdin Santiago came home on a double off the left field wall from Isiah Goodson.
The Titans ran themselves out of that inning after Aquinas turned a rare home-to-first and back double play after Matthew Patella struck out on a low pitch and Daniel Hubert tried scoring on the throw.
Nova did make it a one-run game in the next inning, however, as Jared Campbell led off the fifth with a shot over the right field wall.
The Titans kept up the heat on Aquinas for the rest of the night, putting runners in scoring position in the fifth and sixth before getting the tying run in the seventh when Paulson reached second with two outs and raced home with the game-tying run.
After Aquinas all but ran itself out of the ninth, Nova loaded the bases with two outs before a ground out ended the rally.
“It was an amazing game, plays were made on both side which were all worthy of winning the game,” Aquinas coach Troy Cameron said.
“We both played our hearts out. We got big hits, big plays. I was nervous coming in since we beat them 11 times in a row. I was hoping this wasn’t the one which got us.”
▪ Region 4-6A final – Archbishop McCarthy 3, Melbourne Eau Gallie 0: The Mavericks (27-2) punched their ticket to the state semifinals for the eighth time in the last nine years with a second consecutive complete game shutout from staff ace Daniel Federman.
The senior right-hander and University of Miami signee struck out a season-high 11, scattered three hits and failed to give up a walk over seven innings as he improved to 9-1 and lowered his ERA to 1.16 for the season.
“They got me a run in the first and that makes it a lot easier for me,” Federman said. “We played amazing defense, turned a big double play in the fourth. [Andrew] Fernandez blocked everything behind the plate. [Pitching coach Alex Fernandez] called my pitches. My stuff was on tonight, but man my defense backed up tonight tremendously.”
Senior Adan Fernandez, an FIU signee, drove in the only run Federman would need in the top of the first with a frozen rope line drive double off the wall in left-centerfield off Commodores ace Carter Stewart, a Mississippi State signee.
The Mavericks then tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the sixth on bases loaded walks for insurance.
The Commodores (25-4) had their first two runners reach in the fourth on a single and error. But after a sacrifice bunt failed to advance the lead runner, Federman forced an inning-ending double play.
“Every time he goes out there he puts us in such great position to win,” Mavericks coach Rick Bielski said. “He really got ahead of hitters and had all his pitches working. He’s such a bulldog out there. And that’s what it takes to win big games.”
▪ Region 3-9A final — Jupiter vs. Douglas (postponed): Jupiter’s players heckled Stoneman Douglas’ players from their dugout to start Tuesday’s game. But when the game ended, Jupiter’s players were left trapped in that same dugout as rain tricked onto Douglas Field.
Tuesday afternoon’s Region 3-9A final between the two teams was postponed because of lightning in the ninth inning with the score tied at 4. Douglas was trying to advance to the state final four for a chance at its second consecutive title.
The game will be resumed on Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Douglas, accoring to Jupiter coach Andy Mook.
Before the rain blanketed Parkland, the game went back and forth.
Douglas starter Brandon Kaminer, who pitched the Eagles to a win in last season’s Region 3-9A final (also against Jupiter), gave up four runs in his first three innings. However, he settled down and lasted six innings.
Jupiter starter Zach Chivers, meanwhile, did the opposite. After getting through three scoreless frames, he opened the bottom of the fourth by giving up a home run to Douglas catcher Chad McDaniel. He surrendered two more runs in the inning and another in the fifth before he was pulled.
From there, the story of the game was missed chances for Douglas. Following their fourth RBI, the Eagles left five runners on base to send the game to extra innings and made a baserunning blunder in the bottom of the eighth that extinguished their chance for a walk-off win.
Region 7A Final — Belen Jesuit at Dwyer, 6 p.m.