The. Champs. Are. Here.
For the 5th time in school history, the Jesuit Tigers are at the top of the mountain.
They accomplished that feat by defeating a very tough Dunedin Falcons team by a score of 4-3 on a hot Saturday afternoon at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.
It didn't start so great for the Tigers, as the Falcons jumped out to an early 1-0 advantage.
Jesuit starter Justin Clark got the first two outs quickly, but Tristan Morton was then hit by a pitch, and two batters later his courtesy runner Connor Russell scored on a throwing error by Tigers shortstop Bradke Lohry to give Dunedin the lead.
Clark went four innings giving up one hit, one unearned run, two walks, striking out six before handing the ball to Josh Mallitz to start the top of the 5th.
Falcons starter Dominic Pineiro had a strong outing throwing four scoreless innings giving up only three hits.
In the bottom of the 5th, Dunedin went to lefthander Dominic Baratta and the Tigers finally were able to find some offense.
With runners on 2nd and 3rd with two away, BJ Graham came through for the Jesuit offense like he has all season.
Graham hit a hard grounder up the middle and was able to beat the throw from Dunedin shortstop Ray Sass for an RBI infield single to score Lohry and even the score at one apiece.
The score didn't stay that way for long as two pitches later, Cole Russo singled to right to plate Nick Rodriguez. Henry Politz then followed with an RBI single of his own to plate Graham and make it 3-1.
Just like they've done all season, Dunedin would not go away quietly.
Singles by Jaydee Marks, Marcus Brodil and Tyler Vogel loaded the bases with one away in the 6th. Seth Buttice, running for Marks, scored on a passed ball to make it 3-2, but that was all the Falcons would get that inning as Jimmy Clifford made a nice play on a popup for out #2 and Mallitz struck out leadoff hitter Chris Johnson swinging to end the inning.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Tigers picked up an all-important insurance run on an RBI double by Rodriguez and then all eyes were on the 7th inning.
Mallitz toed the rubber to start the inning, but was greeted rudely on the second pitch as Sass smoked a ball off the wall in left for a leadoff double.
Coach Miguel Menendez went to the mound to get the ball and called upon Turner Thompson, who finished the semifinal game against Miami Springs on Friday.
Morton grounded out to second to advance Sass to third and then Sass came in to score on a sacrifice fly by Lake Fisher to make it 4-3.
Then, all eyes were on the matchup between Thompson and Dunedin's Jonathan Hubbard.
Hubbard battled all the way to a 2-2 count, but on the 7th pitch of the at bat, Thompson got him swinging and the Tigers rushed the field in elation.
On a sweltering day in Fort Myers, two teams from the Tampa Bay area battled to the bitter end. Both of their fanbases should be proud. They left it all on the field.
I'm not able to see much of the action in Pinellas County, but I can tell you one thing, the Dunedin Falcons are easily one of the most impressive teams I saw all year. They are well-coached and play with a ton of heart and energy. They have NOTHING to hang their heads about and I wouldn't be surprised if they were right back in this same position next year.
The Tigers finish their season in style and head back to the 813 with smiles on their faces.
Oh yeah, a State Title too.