Defending Class 3A state baseball champion Melbourne Central Catholic got a feel for where it stands in 2014 last weekend, finishing as the runner-up in the Tournament of Champions in Jacksonville.
The Hustlers lost the championship game to last year’s 5A winner, Ponte Vedra, 3-2. MCC reached the final by defeating Jacksonville Episcopal (5-2) and Clay (3-2). The Hustlers are 10-4.
“We competed well. The kids responded to the environment,” MCC coach Tom Dooley said. “The depth of the rosters was incredible.
“I think our kids saw the moment and took advantage.”
Ponte Vedra needed runs in the sixth and seventh innings to come from behind. Though there were losses from last season’s title team, several of the returning players had key moments in Jacksonville. Alex Carpenter pitched a complete game and struck out five against Clay. John Capra and Mark Potter each had four hits during the weekend.
Another pitcher, Kenny Rhodes, contributed with 21⁄3 innings out of the bullpen for the win in the opener. In a Saturday start, he allowed one hit and one run in four innings.
“We don’t think we have the team we had last year, but last year at this time we didn’t think we had the team we did,” Dooley said. “We’re starting to come around. We’ve had three or four major injuries. We haven’t had our starting outfield together.”
After playing at St. Edward’s in a Class 3A, District 13 game today at 6 p.m., the Hustlers will host Class 6A St. Augustine on Friday at 4.