No. 2 seed Cape Coral clearly earned the right to battle No. 1 seed Cypress Lake for the District 5A-13 baseball championship on Friday night at tournament host Mariner. The two teams proved their worth over the regular season by splitting two games and finishing 1-2 in the standings.
"Cypress is a tough team," said Seahawks coach Mike Gorton. "They will compete. It's a matter of two teams coming ready to play."
While the district championship is at stake Friday, both teams automatically advance to next week's regional playoffs. Friday's winner claims home field advantage for the first regional match.
Cape High players greet Billy Pryor (1) and Baily Wilson (19) after they scored against Mariner in the District 5A-13 semifinal Wednesday night. More photos are available online at: cu.cape-coral-daily-breeze.com.
Wednesday night at Mariner, on the strong right arm of pitcher Kyle Arjona, the Seahawks put knocked out the Tritons 3-0.
The Seahawks (15-9) loaded the bases with two out in the first inning, courtesy of two walks and one hit off Tritons left-hander Luis Ferrer. They did not score, however, as Ferrer coaxed David Schulz to fly out to center to end the threat.
The second inning wasn't pretty as two Tritons errors gave the Seahawks all the runs they would need. With two on and one out, Billy Pryor drove in the first run with a single to right field. Ferrer hit the next batter, Scott Dudas, to load the bases.
Cody Carroll then hit a hard ground ball to the shortstop side of second base and the Tritons tried to turn the inning-ending double play. Instead, second baseman Tony Lopez's relay throw to first was off the mark and the final two runs scored.
"To get three runs like that made it a big inning," said Gorton. "It was nice to get those three runs. Sometimes it comes back to bite you later, but not tonight and that was a plus."
The Seahawks only got two hits after that and left three runners on the bases. They stranded a total of seven runners.
"Our approach at the plate tonight was not very good against Arjona," said Tritons coach Tom Woodley. "We could have put better swings on the ball, but you have to give Arjona credit. We had one bad inning with a couple of throwing errors and that has been a problem for us all year."
The first and fifth innings were the only ones in which the Tritons had more than one runner on base. They had at least one runner aboard in each of the first five innings, but failed to score. Only two Tritons got as far as third base as they stranded all seven to reach base.
They had two on with one out in the first and two on with one out in the fifth. The latter of those could have gotten the Tritons (13-12) back in the game, but Enrique Morales and Ferrer both grounded out to spoil the comeback bid.
"I thought Luis struggled early, but he just had to figure some things out," said Woodley. "I give my pitchers a little leeway like that. He did not have his best stuff, but he battled all night."
Ferrer (1-5) surrendered the three runs on five hits, walked three and struck out one in taking the loss.
Arjona (7-2) got the shutout win by allowing two hits, walked two and struck out five.
"Kyle has pitched great for us all season," said Gorton. "I told him in advance that this was his game. He competed all year as a high level, which is what you need to help you advance in the regionals later on."
As far as the three errors by the Seahawks, Gorton added, "You try to pump up the players, but you want them under control. You want them excited, but you will have stuff like that happen."
Cypress Lake advanced earlier Wednesday with a 10-0 pasting of North Fort Myers in five innings. The first pitch Friday in 7 p.m.
Mariner 000 000 0 - 0 2 2
Cape Coral 030 000 x - 3 5 3
W - Arjona (7-2). L - Ferrer (1-5).
Mariner 6, Golden Gate 2: Mariner rallied from a 2-0 early deficit with a pair of three-run rallies Wednesday night to upend Golden Gate in the Region 5A-4 quarterfinal round.
Alyssa Langdale delivered a two-run double in the fifth inning to cap the comeback. Heather Gillions sealed the win with a three-run home run in the top of the seventh.
Taylor Henderson contributed two hits, including a double.
Langdale scattered seven hits to pick up the win on the mound.
The Tritons (14-10) advance to the Region 5A-4 semifinal round Tuesday at Lemon Bay.
Mariner 000 030 3 - 6 6 3
Golden Gate 011 000 0 - 2 7 3
W - Langdale (13-10). L - Shadley.
2B - Henderson (M), Langdale (M). 3B - Shadley (GG). HR - Gillions (M).