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Gibbons baseball reaches first state final in 32 years

Chiefs force extra innings but come up short against Melbourne Central Catholic

Cardinal Gibbons third baseman Felix Torres reaches for a throw from left fielder Tim Manning (unpictured) to tag out Melbourne Central Catholic runner Cam Maruzzella during the seventh inning of their Florida Class 5A baseball state championship game May 30.

Photographer: LYNN RAMSEY | FC

Cardinal Gibbons third baseman Felix Torres reaches for a throw from left fielder Tim Manning (unpictured) to tag out Melbourne Central Catholic runner Cam Maruzzella during the seventh inning of their Florida Class 5A baseball state championship game May 30.

FORT MYERS | Jason Hamilton and his Cardinal Gibbons Chiefs reached an all-Catholic state baseball championship by fighting for every step.

Melbourne Central Catholic fought harder to beat the Chiefs 6-3 in eight innings May 30 in the Class 5A baseball final. The Hustlers took the state title back to the Orlando Diocese when pinch-hitter Bryce Dalrymple doubled in three runs in the top of the eighth.

Cardinal Gibbons' Trevor Kole celebrates his fourth-inning triple against Melbourne Central Catholic in their Florida Class 5A baseball state championship game May 30.

Photographer: LYNN RAMSEY | FC

Cardinal Gibbons' Trevor Kole celebrates his fourth-inning triple against Melbourne Central Catholic in their Florida Class 5A baseball state championship game May 30.

At least one Archdiocese of Miami team had won a state title each year since 2014. Cardinal Gibbons advanced to the state final for the first time since winning the 1987 Class 3A state championship.

Hamilton said that four seniors led the way for the Chiefs (23-9), but that the core of the team returns.

“These guys have nothing to be ashamed of,” Hamilton said. “They’ve battled all year long, and everybody’s proud of them. It’s the third time we’re there. We graduate four seniors. We have a young team. Our nucleus is all back.”

 

ALMOST GOT IT

The Chiefs will be driven by a rally almost completed. Cardinal Gibbons, which had beaten Bishop Moore 4-3 in the state semifinals, stood toe-to-toe with the Hustlers. Nearly every time Melbourne Central Catholic grabbed a lead, Cardinal Gibbons fought back.

When Zach Beolet’s RBI single put the Hustlers up 1-0 in the fourth inning, Kevin Hirsch’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fourth tied it at 1-1.

Cardinal Gibbons shortstop Trevor Kole throws out a Melbourne Central Catholic hitter during the fourth inning of their Florida Class 5A baseball state championship game May 30.

Photographer: LYNN RAMSEY | FC

Cardinal Gibbons shortstop Trevor Kole throws out a Melbourne Central Catholic hitter during the fourth inning of their Florida Class 5A baseball state championship game May 30.

Beolet put the Hustlers up 3-1 in the top of the sixth by tripling in a run and scoring on a wild pitch. Brice Montiel tied it in the bottom of the seventh inning with a two-run single, chasing reliever Justin Lierman with one out.

“It was a little nerve wracking, but I had to give the next guy a chance,” Montiel said. “First, I was a little scared. Then I got a pitch to hit, not try to do too much.”

When the Hustlers turned to reliever Shea Justin, the Chiefs greeted him with a Felix Torres single and Trevor Kole’s getting hit by a pitch to load the bases. Justin then induced Kevin Hirsch to fly out to center to force extra innings.

“I would imagine that’s one of the biggest spots in his life. He’s the leading home-run guy in Broward County, he’s the leading RBI guy in Broward. That’s the guy you want,” Hamilton said of Hirsch. “If I was in that spot, I would be aggressive to. He wanted to win the game for his team. That’s what he tried to do.”

 

DEEPER BENCH?

Melbourne went even deeper into its bench in the eighth inning. Sophomore Bryce Dalrymple doubled to left center to drive in three runs and put the Hustlers up 6-3. Justin then set down the Chiefs in order to clinch the victory.

“Shea Justin needs a shout-out, because he hadn’t pitched in a while,” Hustlers’ coach Tom Dooley said. “To go out there and finish the eighth inning is kinda neat. It’s a great story. The kid was mentally ready, emotionally ready.”

One challenge of having the semifinals and finals on consecutive days is that it challenges the depth of a pitching staff. Melbourne ace Nick Durgin pitched a one-hit shutout in the semifinals against Live Oak Suwannee. As a result, the Hustlers had their remaining pitchers available.

Bishop Moore forced the Chiefs to use their top two arms — University of Florida commitment Tim Manning and Keanu Buerosse — to win their semifinal. As a result, several players who hadn’t pitched in a while were called on in the final.

Cardinal Gibbons runner Michael Higgins reaches back to touch home with the tying run in the bottom of the seventh inning of the Chiefs' Florida Class 5A baseball state championship game against Melbourne Central Catholic May 30. Isaiah Farris, right, also scored on Brice Montiel's two-run single but Melbourne Central Catholic won the game 6-3 in eight innings.

Photographer: LYNN RAMSEY | FC

Cardinal Gibbons runner Michael Higgins reaches back to touch home with the tying run in the bottom of the seventh inning of the Chiefs' Florida Class 5A baseball state championship game against Melbourne Central Catholic May 30. Isaiah Farris, right, also scored on Brice Montiel's two-run single but Melbourne Central Catholic won the game 6-3 in eight innings.

Kenneth Morgan, who hadn’t pitched in a month, allowed one earned run in four innings. After Bode Buerosse and David Rossow each allowed a run, the Chiefs turned the eighth inning over to Michael Higgins, who had pitched only 4 2/3 innings all year in seven relief appearances. A walk and two grounders loaded the bases for Dalrymple’s game-winner.

“I was very proud of the guys who pitched today,” Hamilton said. “Those guys who threw today through our playoff run had a combined one inning of work in the regionals. Everyone who threw today, we’re proud of. They threw strikes, made them put it in play. That’s all we wanted going into this game.”

 

REVENGE IN SEMIFINAL

Gibbons prevented an all-Orlando Diocese final by beating Bishop Moore 4-3 in the semifinal. The Chiefs, who lost to Bishop Moore 6-5 in nine innings April 23, took advantage of three Bishop Moore errors.

Trevor Kole went 2 for 3 with two RBIs for the Chiefs against the Hornets. Kole doubled in the Chiefs’ first run in the first. He then singled in the go-ahead run in the fifth and scored an insurance run on a throwing error.

Tim Manning (7-1) allowed three earned runs in five-plus innings for the victory. Keanu Buerosse pitched out of jams in the sixth and seventh to earn his second save.

The Chiefs played a challenging schedule, which prepared them for the playoffs. In addition to Bishop Moore, Cardinal Gibbons played region finalists St. Thomas Aquinas, playoffs teams Pembroke Pines Charter, Belen Jesuit, North Broward Prep, Winter Park, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

Gibbons then ran a gauntlet in the playoffs to reach the final, starting with a district semifinal against Somerset. They beat LaBelle and University of Florida commitment Ty Nesbitt 6-3 in the region quarterfinals. They beat district foe North Broward Prep for the fourth time, 1-0, in the region semifinals.

The Chiefs also took down defending Class 5A champion Monsignor Pace 5-1. Against the Spartans, Montiel drove in two runs, while Hirsch and Logan Puente each had two hits. Hirsch hit a home run against the Spartans, his 10th of the season. Buerosse pitched 5 1/3 shutout innings in relief, giving up four hits, walking four and striking out six.

“Seeing Bishop Moore was not a surprise,” Hamilton said. “We prepared for that. We’ve done that for 20 years. We play all the hard teams to get ready for this moment. And now we’re here.”

Cardinal Gibbons head coach Jason Hamilton, left, holds the runner-up trophy with seniors Kevin Hirsch, John Diaz, Kyle Kuramoto and Keanu Buerosse following the Chiefs' 6-3 eight-inning loss to Melbourne Central Catholic in the Class 5A baseball state championship game at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.

Photographer: LYNN RAMSEY | FC

Cardinal Gibbons head coach Jason Hamilton, left, holds the runner-up trophy with seniors Kevin Hirsch, John Diaz, Kyle Kuramoto and Keanu Buerosse following the Chiefs' 6-3 eight-inning loss to Melbourne Central Catholic in the Class 5A baseball state championship game at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.


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