Less than 12 hours removed from being down to the final six outs of his high school baseball career and coming through with two RBI hits in the same inning, Jupiter High senior Mitch Hartigan earned the win on the mound in his team’s first state championship game victory in school history.
Hartigan admitted he did not have his best stuff but nevertheless threw five innings, struck out four and allowed three runs as the Warriors topped Orlando Timber Creek 6-3 at Hammond Stadium at the CenturyLink Sports Complex on Saturday night.
Jupiter, which defeated Miami Columbus 9-4 in the 9A state semifinal earlier on Saturday afternoon by scoring eight runs in the sixth inning, scored three runs in both the third and fifth innings, and that was enough run support for Hartigan and relief pitcher Charles Fishbaugh.
“I was ready and I’ve been ready (for this),” Hartigan said. “There’s always a little bit of fatigue after a game like that, after a game where you score eight runs in one inning. I just needed to keep them off the board as much as possible, and I knew my team would pick me up.”
Timber Creek starting pitcher Preston Schumacher struck out five of the first six batters he faced before Jupiter (20-11) got on the board in the top of the third inning. Hartigan ripped a ground ball that bounced off Timber Creek third baseman Nick Ruhl’s glove and into foul territory allowing Blake Bohlman and Robby Stone to plate the game’s first two runs.
Warriors first baseman Peter Cowley followed that up with an RBI groundout that pushed the Jupiter lead to 3-0.
Timber Creek (22-8) got one back in the fourth on an RBI single by Parker Wood, but the Warriors extended their lead in the top of the fifth inning.
Dakota Gaillard scored the first run of the frame when he touched home plate after a swinging third strike squirted past Timber Creek catcher Steffan Fish. The big hit of the inning belonged to Cowley however as his two-run double blew the game open and gave his team a 6-1 lead.
The Wolves got a two-run double from left fielder Marcos Roque to trim the lead to 6-3 in the fifth but could never draw any closer.
“Since the playoffs have started, these guys have been on a ride,” Jupiter coach Andy Mook said. “A lot of grit these guys have. They grinded it out all season.”
Ricky Clark had three hits for the Warriors while Cowley finished the game with three RBIs.
Fishbaugh earned the save on the mound as he set the Wolves down in order in the sixth and seventh innings.
Timber Creek defeated Jupiter 4-2 in a 2017 9A state semifinal to end the Warriors’ season last year.
“This is so special,” Hartigan said. “This is no better way for us to go out than this.”