Locked in a tie game with one out in the sixth inning, hoping not to squander another prime scoring opportunity, Coral Reef’s Michael Ogden dropped down a squeeze bunt and darted to first base. Sebastian Jimenez, running on contact, darted from third base with the ball a mere feet in front of home plate.
Coral Park first baseman Roman Garcia, playing close to home plate in anticipation of the bunt, picked up the ball, looked home, hesitated and made a late throw to first. Jimenez scores, Ogden is safe at first, and Coral Reef has a lead for the first time in the game.
About 10 minutes later, the Barracudas could finally celebrate. With a 2-1 win over Coral Park in the Region 4-9A final, Coral Reef punched its ticket to its first-ever state final four. Reef (19-10) will face either Timber Creek or Vero Beach at the CenturyLink Sports Complex in Fort Myers on May 30 for a spot in the state championship. First pitch for that game is set for 1 p.m.
Wednesday’s win was just the latest bit of success for this Coral Reef team. After opening the year with an 8-8 record, the Barracudas have won six of their next games en route to a district title. Reef followed that up with a 6-4 win over Braddock in the regional quarterfinals and a 5-2 win over Killian to set up Wednesday’s showdown with Coral Park.
The Barracudas fell behind 1-0 in the second when Garcia hit a one-out single through the left side to score Eduardo Diaz, who led off the frame with a single to center field.
Reef, which came up empty in the first after loading the bases, tied the game when Coral Park mishandled an Ogden groundball, allowing Sean Londono to score from third.
Three scoreless innings ensued before Ogden’s sac bunt proved to be the game winner.
Junior Samuel Cheng earned the win by throwing seven quality innings.
▪ Region 3-9A final - Palm Beach Central 3, Flanagan 1: For the fifth time in the last nine years, since last winning a state title in 2010, Flanagan reached the 9A regional final only to be turned away again.
The Falcons traveled to Palm Beach County on Wednesday afternoon and dropped a 3-1 decision to Wellington Palm Beach Central in the Region 3-9A final.
After Flanagan scored its only run in the top of the first to get starter Derek Cabrera an early lead, the Broncos came back with two in the bottom of the inning when a Central sacrifice fly brought in two runs as the runner on second came all the way around to score thanks to a throwing error. Central added a run in the third on another sac fly and Flanagan hitters could never muster any offense the rest of the way.
Cabrera threw six innings and gave up just four hits while striking out six.