It was the Tyler Danish show Friday morning at JetBlue Park.
The Florida Gators commit, who is expected to be selected in the opening rounds of June’s MLB draft, fired a complete-game, one-hitter and blasted the tournament’s first home run over the Green Monster in left field to power Plant City Durant to a 6-0 victory over Hialeah American in a Class 8A semifinal game.
Danish, who has not allowed an earned run in 93 innings this season and has not allowed any runs in 39 consecutive innings, surrendered just a fourth-inning single to American first baseman Kendrick Gutierrez, son of Patriot coach and former major leaguer Ricky Gutierrez. The senior struck out nine in his seven innings, and walked just one against an American lineup that had hit 11 home runs on the season. He also added a pair of singles for a 3-for-4 day at the plate.
Danish’s third inning blast gave the Cougars a lead they would not relinquish. Durant extended the lead with runs in the fourth and fifth inning, and put the game out of reach with a two-run single from junior right fielder Paxton Sims in the top of the seventh.
Lake Brantley 4, Jupiter 0: Jupiter held Lake Brantley hitless for the final five innings of their Class 8A semifinal matchup.
Luckily for the Patriots, a four-run second inning was all they needed to advance to today’s state championship game as the Patriots defeated Jupiter 4-0.
Lake Brantley took advantage of four Jupiter errors in the decisive second inning, as none of the Patriots runs were earned, and only one — a double from Logan Warmoth — was batted in.
“We were expecting a low scoring game,” Lake Brantley coach Eric Entrekin said. “We wanted to tack some runs early in the game and take them out of their game.”
Lake Brantley starting pitcher Mitchell Jordan did not let the Warriors, who had averaged eight-plus runs a game in the regional playoffs, mount a comeback. The senior tossed a 104-pitch complete game, striking out seven while allowing seven hits and walking just one hitter.
Class 7A semifinals
Haines City 2, St. Thomas Aquinas 1: Entering the state tournament, the Haines City Hornets had lost five of seven games, and needed to win three straight road games to advance to Fort Myers and the Final Four. After coming up with a run in the top of the seventh inning, the Hornets are one win away from the first baseball state championship in school history.
When Haines City topped St. Thomas Aquinas 2-1, it was the second game in a row that the Hornets had scored the winning runs as the visitor in the final inning.
The game-winning run came on a suicide squeeze from sophomore shortstop Keyshawn Lynch that scored Kevin Torres. Lynch drove in both Hornet runs, the other coming on a first-inning single that brought home junior Brian Morales.
Haines City senior pitcher Dalton Scarborough, who came on in relief of starter Michael Ogden, picked up the win, retiring nine of the 10 hitters he faced, surrendering only a walk in the bottom of the seventh.
Venice 4, Tallahassee Chiles 0: The Venice Indians brought the first truly partisan crowd to JetBlue Park on Friday night, with a contingent that is expected to be exceeded only by Bishop Verot and Estero.
The Indians ensured a return trip down the coast for their fans, riding the early momentum to the victory over Tallahassee Chiles. The Indians will look to claim their second consecutive state championship this evening against Haines City.
Venice, ranked No. 6 in the nation by USA Today, jumped on the Timberwolves with two runs in the first inning on an RBI groundout from Brandon Elmy and a single from Mike Rivera.
Despite being held off the scoreboard until a two-run sixth inning, the Indians had given all the run support senior pitcher Tyson Albert needed.
Albert, who is committed to pitch for St. Petersburg College, fired a complete game three-hitter, striking out six hitters and walking none.
Albert’s shutout was the 19th recorded this season by Venice, and the Indians have surrendered just four runs over the last 15 games. It was also the fifth shutout recorded in the ten games played thus far at the FHSAA Finals.