Trinity Christian and Miami Brito had settled into a pitchers’ duel Wednesday night. Then, the Warriors decided they wanted to wrap things up.
Trinity Christian scored nine runs in the fifth inning, ending the game early with a mercy-rule 10-0 victory in the Class 2A regional semifinals.
“I knew it was going to come somewhere,” Warriors coach Miguel Cuello said. “For some reason, at the end of the season — this is playoff time — we just come through.”
Cuello’s players have been coming up clutch in May for the past two years. Wednesday’s win is the first step for the Warriors as they try to win their third straight state championship. The victory also marks Cuello’s 300th career win.
“It’s a good win today,” Cuello said. “It’s perfect.”
The Warriors’ first run came in the first inning on a groundout by pitcher Angel Tiburcio, last year’s Post Small Schools Player of the Year.
Tiburcio struggled a little early, giving up a pair of first-inning singles, but he didn’t allow a hit for the rest of the game. He struck out six batters and didn’t walk anyone through his five innings; he would have retired the last 15 batters he faced, but one strikeout victim made it to first on a wild pitch.
“They knew who they were going to face, so they weren’t trying to hit the ball hard; they were trying to put the ball in play,” Cuello said. “So after the first round, he switched it up. He went backwards, which is what you do as a pitcher. Then when you throw the fastball, it’s right by them.”
Tiburcio only had to work five innings because the offense exploded in the fifth. The only out Miami Brito recorded was on a play at the plate. Every single batter Trinity Christian sent to bat reached base. A highlight of the inning was a two-run homer by shortstop Kaeber Rog — his fourth of the season and the Warriors’ 20th.
“I think we just swing hard,” Rog said.
Sophomore catcher Fernando Gonzalez, who went 4-for-4 with a pair of doubles, scored twice in the inning, including the game-winning run on a wild pitch.
The Warriors next faces Miami Christian in the regional finals with a trip to Fort Myers on the line. Miami Christian is the No. 2 team in Class 2A in this week’s ThePrepZone.com state poll; the Warriors are third.
“We know what it takes to win because we’ve done it twice,” Cuello said. “There’s no pressure situation. We could be down by one or two. We know we’ve got guys in the lineup that can hit the ball over the fence.”
In other baseball games Wednesday night:
Benjamin 14, Cape Coral-Oasis 0 (5): Kris Armstrong pitched a complete game, striking out 10, and Paul Lancone was 1-for-2 with three runs, as the Buccaneers routed Oasis at the Class 4A regional semifinal in Palm Beach Gardens.