Their actions, or lack thereof, made it perfectly clear when they won their regional final to advance to the state final four.
There was no dog pile last week as the Doral Academy baseball team barely celebrated its win over West Boca Raton.
After being thoroughly throttled and embarrassed in an 11-1 mercy rule loss to Venice in last year’s state semifinal, their first trip to state and “happy to get there,” they were adamant that things would be different this time around.
“We’ve done nothing, we’ve got two more games,” third baseman Luis Espinal said at the time.
Now Espinal and his teammates have just one more game.
That’s because Doral came out and dominated Tampa Leto with a dominating 10-0 five-inning mercy rule victory in a 7A state semifinal on Friday night at CenturyLink Sports Complex.
Doral (24-6) will play for the Class 7A state title for the first time on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The opponent could not be more appropriate – that very same Venice team. The Indians, the defending 7A champions, won an extra-inning thriller over St. Johns Creekside in the earlier semifinal.
“We never forgot how we got embarrassed when we got here last year and got sent home,” said Doral head coach Ralph Suarez. “You could tell from the very first pitch tonight how focused these kids were, and you can bet they’ll be ready for Venice tomorrow (Saturday) night. I can’t wait.”
Suarez watched with delight as his Firebirds got out of the gate quickly when they put together a quick two-out rally in the bottom of the first. After Adrian Figueroa doubled off the right field wall, Espinal brought him home one pitch later with a base hit to left and 1-0 lead.
Doral then practically slam dunked the game in the bottom of the second by plating six runs, chasing Leto starter and Stetson commit Christian Suarez.
After Suarez hit Ronny Medina to start the inning, he issued back-to-back one-out walks to Dominic Pitelli and Matthew Corpas to load the bases and bring up the top of the order.
Gaby Gutierrez then drilled a double just inside the left-field line down into the corner, clearing the bases to make it 4-0. After Nicolas Pitelli struck out, Figueroa reached on an error at shortstop as Gutierrez scored. After Espinal singled to left, both he and Figueroa scored when Xavier Moronta hit a towering shot off the left-field wall to make it 7-0.
Doral starter Mario Garcia cruised through the first inning but had to work out of a jam in the second. After Brayan Cruz reached on a one-out error, Garcia walked Mikey Camacho and both runners advanced on a groundout to the catcher in front of the plate.
Facing the No. 9 hitter in the lineup, Garcia walked Isiah Gonzalez on four pitches to load the bases and had to face leadoff hitter Coltin Pizzio but got him looking at a called strike three to end the inning and coasted from there.
“That six looks awfully nice up there,” said Garcia pointing to the scoreboard that displayed his team’s six runs in the second. “When you get that kind of a lead, it just makes things that much easier going out there and I was just able to lock everything down from there.”
Figueroa ended the game in the bottom of the fifth when he stepped up with the bases loaded and one out and singled to right scoring the clinching run from third.
“We were ready this time,” said Gutierrez, who finished 2 for 3 with two doubles and four RBI. “We learned from last year and tonight we just wanted to come out and win each inning. Getting those six runs in that second inning was big because you could see we pretty took them (Leto) out of the game. Now we’ve got one more.”