Having dominated Region 4A-3 the last four years, the Bishop Verot baseball team didn’t expect to face adversity this early in the state playoffs. The Vikings outscored Clewiston 22-0 in their last two meetings.
Yet, the second-ranked team in the classification was tied with the 10-13 team in the third inning of a regional quarterfinal.
While Verot coach David Nelson would have preferred to be up 10 runs Wednesday on the way to a rematch with Fort Pierce Lincoln Park, in the back of his mind, he was pleased the Tigers provided that moment of adversity.
The Vikings’ answer to it in the 10-2 victory told him all he needed to know about his club.
“We had to work to be able to win tonight,” Nelson said.
Clewiston’s Steve Mckown hammered a Thaddeus Ward fastball for a two-run double to center field, tying the game at 2 in the top of the third.
“We may be 27 games in, but we’re continuously growing,” Nelson said. “Having to fight through some adversity was good for us.”
In the bottom of the frame, Verot junior catcher Michael Richey belted a two-run double of his own. The Vikings followed with three runs apiece in the fifth and sixth.
“It was a big play to kind of take the pressure off us,” Nelson said. “We’re the ones who are 20-6. We’re the ones who have been to four straight Final 4s. For us, to answer back with two runs was important.”
With the win, the Vikings will play at Lincoln Park, which it has knocked out of the postseason the last four year, on Tuesday.
Ace Thaddeus Ward struck out nine and walked four in six innings of work to pick up the victory. He appeared a bit more comfortable on the mound after Richey’s shot down the left-field line.
Anthony Tejeda added two hits and an RBI for the Vikings (21-6), who Nelson challenged earlier this month with tournaments in Jacksonville and Orlando that featured high-end competition.
“We’ve instilled into these guys’ mind what playoff baseball is,” Nelson said. “Now, this is actual playoff baseball. This is a lot more pressure. Its win or you don’t advance. Win or you don’t get to practice any more. To win in playoff baseball you have to be able to battle through some adversity. You have to be able to do some things that you haven’t had to do during the season.”