*** Championship Game ***
There was no better way to end a week of tremendous baseball than with an extra-inning, walkoff championship game on Friday night. A late rally from the Maclay Marauders gave them a 5-4 victory over the Orangewood Christian Rams, earning them the trophy.
Orangewood’s potent offense wasted no time getting on the board early. After Michael Spears walked and stole second to lead off the game, he was sacrificed to third by Patrick Yost. After Jeremiah Davis was hit by a pitch, an attempted pickoff throw was errant, allowing Spears to score and moving Davis all the way to third. He was then brought in on a groundout from Jake Leiffer, making the score 2-0. With two outs in the bottom half, Max McKinley would spark Maclay with a two out single. An error moved McKinley to third, who was promptly scored by a Matt Boynton single to cut the lead in half.
After the first inning fireworks, both starting pitchers settled down. Mike McArdle (OCS) retired nine of twelve batters over the next three innings, while Matt Boynton (Mac) took care of nine of eleven hitters. Orangewood would break through in the fifth inning, with a two out double from Yost. Maclay decided to intentionally walk the dangerous Jeremiah Davis, putting two me on for Jake Leiffer. Leiffer would come through, delivering a base hit to center that would score Yost and make the score 3-1.
With Maclay down to their last four outs in the bottom of the sixth, the Marauders put together a rally of their own. Will Choi started things with a single, and then stole second base. Andrew Higdon’s double would score Choi, and keep a runner in scoring position. After a walk to Bryce Hatfield, Coach Hilinski called for a relief pitcher to protect the lead. Leadoff man Jack Brady wasn’t having it though, as he slapped a single to right field to score Higdon and tie the ballgame.
Neither team could score in the seventh, so the game headed to an extra frame. Trent Lawrence roped a two-out single, and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Jake Lefever then delivered a single to score Lawrence and give the Rams a 4-3 advantage. The Marauders had their work cut out for them as they headed to the bottom half. Higdon started things off with a sharp grounder to shortstop. An errant throw allowed him to not only reach safely, but move to second base. A Bryce Hatfield single put men on the corners with no outs. Once again, Jack Brady came through for Maclay, sending a single to the outfield that scored Higdon and tied the game. A double steal would put men on second and third, leading to an intentional walk to load the bases for a possible force out at home. The plan backfired for Orangewood when Billy Grant was hit by a pitch, forcing in the winning run and giving Maclay the title.
Matt Boyton pitched a great game for Maclay, lasting seven innings. He gave up three runs (two earned) on four hits with seven strikeouts. Tanner Stafford was awarded the win after pitching the eighth inning. Brady, Boyton, Higdon and Hatfield had two hits each for Maclay, with Brady chipping in two RBI and Higdon scoring twice. Jake Leiffer had two RBI to lead the Orangewood offense.
North Florida Christian 3
Broken Arrow 2
The North Florida Christian Eagles used a strong first inning and an impressive effort on the mound to defeat the Broken Arrow Tigers 3-2 in the opening game of the tournament’s final day.
Brandon Walker got things started quickly for the Eagles, ripping a triple to left field to lead off the bottom of the first. One pitch later, Trey Pearce would deliver a single to score Walker. After Pearce advanced to second on a balk, a double from Matt Dickey would bring him around to score. A flyout to right field would move Dickey to third, and a sac fly off the bat of Taylor Schmidt would score him, making it 3-0 in favor of the Eagles.
Though they would not score for the rest of the game, the NFC pitching staff was able to hold the lead. Starter Brandon Schmidt would escape the first three innings unscathed, but ran into trouble in the fourth. After loading the bases, a fielding error by the third baseman allowed both Colton Croft and Jon Gilton to score, making it 3-2. To suppress any further offense, Coach Mike Posey called on his ace, Cole Ragans, to relieve his starter. Ragans would do just that, striking out the next batter, then picking off the runner on first to get out of the inning.
Ragans would pitch two more innings of perfect baseball before Pearce came in to close out the game with a three-strikeout final frame to earn the save. Dickey ended the day 2-3 with a run and an RBI on the day to lead the Eagles. In four games during the week, Dickey was 11-15 at the plate with four doubles and a homerun. North Florida Christian ended their Showcase debut with a perfect 4-0 record. Devon Johnson had two hits for the Tigers, who finished 2-2 for the week.
Flagler Palm Coast 11
Florida High 0
Austin Massebeau was not going to let the Flagler Palm Coast Bulldogs end the week without a victory. His impressive start kept the Florida High offense in check as FPC was able to run rule the Seminoles for an 11-0 victory on Friday morning.
Massebeau, a senior RHP and outfielder who is headed to Daytona State, was nearly untouchable on the mound for the Bulldogs. He gave up three hits and walked one batter, but did not allow any runs and struck out nine in five innings. He had two strikeouts in each of the first, third, fourth and fifth innings as the Seminole Bats struggled to make contact.
The Palm Coast offense supplied plenty of runs for their pitcher, scoring three in the first, one in the second, one in the third and six in the fourth. Emerson Cheney (2-2, BB, 2B, 3 R, 1 RBI) and Cameron Becker (1-2, 2B, SAC fly, 1 R, 3 RBI) led the Bulldog offense. Massebeau contributed two hits, a walk and a run as well to help his own cause. Julio Salado was the top performer for Florida High, going 2-2 with a double in the game. FPC finishes the tournament 1-2, while Florida High was 0-4.
Palmetto Ridge 6
The third game of the day provided fans with a great back and forth matchup between Okeechobee and Palmetto Ridge. A late rally helped the Bears come back and take the win from the Brahmans, winning by a score of 6-5.
Palmetto Ridge was in control early as they score one run in each of the bottom of the first (RBI single from Kenny Geiger), the second (error by the shortstop), and the third (Brandon Snyder steal). The game would change quickly though as Okeechobee was able to chase starter Steven Laboy with a pair of singles. Jeff Pelletier came on in relief, and did not fare much better. After a flyout, an Eli Finney single would load the bases. Koby Chapman then walked, forcing in a run. A wild pitch during the next at bat would plate run number two, and a sac fly from Jarred Morgan brought in another. Another pair of singles from Cody Louthan and Gabe Greseth brought in Chapman, making the score 4-3. Okeechobee would add a fifth run in the fifth, courtesy of an RBI fielder’s choice from Finney.
The bottom of the sixth inning would be the turning point for Palmetto Ridge. With one out, Kenny Geiger got things started with a walk. He would steal second base, and then have teammate Cristian Torres join him on the bases with a walk of his own. A strikeout from pitcher Zach Hudson put two outs on the board, but the Bears refused to go down without a fight. Jose Rodriguez stepped up with a base hit that plated Geiger, making it 5-4. Brian Fernandez would come on to pinch hit. He would single to score Torres, and then things got interesting. An errant throw during the play trickled in to the home dugout, allowing each runner to advance two bases, meaning Rodriguez was able to score on the play, making it 6-5 Bears. Baron Stuart would make it to second base in top of the seventh, but couldn’t be brought home as Pelletier induced a couple of groundouts to end the game.
Pelletier would earn the win in relief, working the last four innings of the game. He was also 1-3 at the plate with a stolen base. Rodriguez was the key cog in the Palmetto Ridge offense, going 3-3 with a run and an RBI. Gabe Greseth paced the Brahman by going 3-4. Palmetto Ridge wrapped up the week with a 3-1 record, while Okeechobee went 0-4.
Barron Collier 6
It took extra innings to figure out the winner of the late afternoon matchup between the Barron Collier Cougars and the Lincoln Trojans. In the end, a costly defensive miscue would allow the Cougars to take a late lead, and win by a score of 6-4.
After three up, three down on both sides in the first inning Barron Collier was able to scrape together a run in the second. Logan Langham was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, and would move to second on a Gabe Noguera single. After a flyout, Marcus Crabtree singled to load the bags. A groundball from John Long would bring in Langham, making it 1-0. The Cougars would pounce again in the third inning, when Marc Coffers started a two-out rally with a single. Logan Langham followed by getting hit by a pitch again, putting two men on. A double steal put both runners in scoring position, and Noguera would deliver a double, scoring the two baserunners and pushing the score to 3-0.
In the fourth inning, Brock Nichols would reach on a two-out single, and move to second on a stolen base. The inning seemed to be over shortly after when Jonathan Newman struck out swinging, but he was able to hustle down to first on a dropped third strike. The throw got away from the catcher, allowing Nichols to score what would be an important run.
Things looked bleak for Lincoln as they headed into the bottom of the sixth inning down by four runs. The mood changed quickly when Ryan Hagen, Austin Pollock and Seton Bentz all reached base safely to start the inning. After a pitching change, catcher Bo Seccombe would come through for the Trojans, stroking a double to the outfield that scored all three baserunners. Clay Caldwell then ripped a double of his own, scoring Seccombe and tying the ballgame in front of an energized crowd at Sanford Memorial Stadium. Both teams failed to score in the seventh inning, meaning the game would go to extra innings.
With one out in the top of the eighth, Marcus Crabtree singled, and promptly stole second base. John Long would then hit a groundball to second base, and an errant throw would allow Crabtree to score and move Long to second himself. After Long moved to third base on a Brock Nichols single, he would come around to score on a suicide squeeze to make it 8-6. Logan Langham would close out the ballgame, striking out two in the final inning.
Marc Coffers was 3-4 for Barron Collier, recording his third multi-hit game of the week. Gabe Noguera, Marcus Crabtree and Brock Nichols each chipped in two hits apiece for the Cougars as well. AustinPollock, Seton Bentz, Josiah Miller and Jacob Newell each had two hits for Lincoln, while Bo Seccombe drove in three runs. Both schools finish the week with a 2-2 record.