Bishop Verot waited three years to get back to a state final. The three extra hours the Vikings had to wait to take the big stage due to weather delays, however, may have taken their toll.
Bishop Verot came out sluggish and fell behind four runs in the first inning against Jacksonville Trinity Christian and lost 6-4 early Wednesday in the Class 4A title game at JetBlue Park.
The Conquerors celebrated their first state crown while Verot (24-7) played in its first state final since 2012, and last won it all in 2011.
The delay pushed the game back to 10:35 p.m. with the game ending just before 1 a.m.
There was a feeling of deja vu waiting three hours for their game to begin after numerous lightning delays, which began at 6:05 p.m. during the Class 3A title game.
Last season, the Verot’s state semifinal game with Ocala Trinity Catholic began at 11 p.m. and ended at 1:14 a.m. with a 2-1 loss.
Verot coach David Nelson refused to blame the delay.
“We’ve done it before. We’re tough,” Nelson said. “We’ve put our kids through a lot this year with working and practices. We’ve played in some big-time tournaments. We’ve faced adversity. … I don’t think (the delay) had a lot to do with it.”
The matchup featured two pitchers headed to UCF next season in Trinity’s Ryan Aspinwall and Verot’s Thaddeus Ward. Aspinwall was sharp early, throwing four scoreless innings to start the game while Ward was touched up for four runs in the first inning in a rocky start.
Trinity sent nine to the plate in the first. The Conquerors scored the first two runs on errors while Josh Broughton and Cody Crawford followed with RBI-singles in a frame where Verot made three miscues.
“When you make three errors in the first inning with a team like that, a pitcher like that and a well-coached team like that it’s hard to be able to come back and get a victory,” Nelson said. “That was the game right there.”
Ward had retired 10 of 11 before walking Crawford and allowing a Brooks Wilson bunt single in the sixth. After he issued an intentional walk to Austin Martin, Logan Nugent delivered a double down the right-field line that plated two to end Ward’s day.
The flame-throwing right-hander gave up six runs on nine hits over 51/3 innings.
In the bottom of the sixth, Verot put two runners on with one out. After Michael Richey grounded into a fielder’s choice, Anthony Tejeda’s RBI-single put the Vikings on the board. Pinch-runner Daulton Lagrave jarred the ball loose on a Crawford tag at third base, which loaded the bases.
Blaze Alexander cut the lead to 6-3 with a single to left field.
Down to its final out in the seventh, Verot got an RBI-double from Richie Nizza to send the potential tying run to the plate. Michael Richey grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the game.
Bishop Verot state final games
Bishop Verot 5, Tallahassee Florida High 3
Eustis 3, Bishop Verot 2
Bishop Verot 4, Pensacola Catholic 3
Pensacola Catholic 7, Bishop Verot 2
Jacksonville Trinity Christian 6, Bishop Verot 4
Lee County state final games
Four other schools (Fort Myers 1966; Cypress Lake 1967; Riverdale 2008; Estero 2013) lost in the state championship game.