Patriots fall short of state final, end tremendous run

Patriots fall short of state final, end tremendous run

LAKELAND- When he looks back on the 2014 season, College of Central Florida baseball coach Marty Smith will smile.

"This team was a lot of fun to coach," said Smith, whose team was eliminated from the FCSAA State Tournament one game from the finals with a 3-1 loss to Miami Dade. "I loved coaching this team. They gave me everything they had.

"We went further than we probably should have and I am really proud of what these guys accomplished. It was a great year and a lot of fun."

CF got a complete game effort from its ace Boomer Biegalski (8-4), who struck out 13 batters in the loss.

The Sharks, who avenged a 7-6 loss to the Patriots from earlier in the tournament, stayed hot and knocked off Polk State 4-2 in the championship game later on Wednesday at Joker Marchant Stadium.

To get there, the duo of Marcus Barrios and Alejandro Castro made the pitches to get past CF.

Trailing by two in the bottom of the eighth, CF appeared poised for a rally after A.J. Elkins and Ryan Crile led off the frame with singles.  From there, Christian Khawam laid down a textbook sacrifice bunt, which set the stage for Enderson Velasquez, who hit a solo homer in the bottom of the sixth to pull the Patriots to within one.  Castro, a sidearm reliever, was able to come up big with strikeouts against Velasquez and Justin Ambrosino, who entered the game 5-for-6 against the Sharks on the season.

In the ninth, Castro, who struck out three of the five batters he faced and needed just 16 pitches total to do so, retried the Patriots in order.

"You've really got to tip your hat to their pitchers," said Smith. "Both of their guys made great pitches against some of our better hitters.

"Boomer pitched a great game for us, but (Miami Dade) made the plays and they beat our best. You've got to credit them for the way they played."

CF, which was 2-0 against the Sharks entering the game, had another key chance that went by the wayside in a scoreless game in the bottom of the fifth. David Lugo led off the inning with a triple and Mandy Alvarez followed with a nice play at third off a ball with a wicked backspin to throw out Ryan Smith.

Berrios, who threw 114 pitches in a 7 1/3 inning no-decision earlier in the tournament against the Patriots, then got N.J. Williamson to fly to shallow center and also retired Elkins on a fly.

Miami Dade responded with RBI singles from Jose Gomez and David Palenzuela with two outs in the sixth against Bieglaski.

CF wasn't done, though, as Velasquez golfed a two-out shot past the 340-foot sign in left field for a solo homer in the bottom half of the inning.

The Sharks didn't let things sit in their next at-bat, as Alvarez, who went 2-for-4 on the day, rounded out the game's scoring with a solo homer. Alvarez ended up 10-for-24 for the tournament to pace Miami Dade at the plate.

Biegalski did all he could do to keep his team in the game, as he struck out five of the next six hitters he faced and retired nine of the final 10 he faced the rest of the way.

For the tournament, Biegalski struck out 19 batters in 18 innings of work. He allowed six runs on 15 its and walked just one. His 13 strikeouts on Wednesday tied his career at CF and also broke the school record for most strikeouts in a state tournament game pervioiusly held by Jason Russ, who struck out 12 in a 2-1 win over FCC-J in the 1997 state championship game.

On Wednesday, Biegalski threw 110 pitches, 84 for strikes, which followed last Friday's effort where he threw 124 pitches, with 97 going for strikes. By going 18 innings over consecutive complete games, Biegalski also set the school record for most innings pitched in a state tournament for CF.

Russ went 16 1/3 for the previous record in 1997 over starts against Pasco-Hernando and FCC-J. Biegalski was just two strikeouts shy of the school record for the most total strikeouts of 21 set by Russ in 97'.

The consecutive complete games are the first in recent memory in state tournament play.

Biegalski's totals were off the all-tournament records of 26 1/3 innings pitched by Joe Arnold of Miami Dade-North in 1966 and 31 strikeouts set by State College of Florida-Manatee's Pat Osburn in 1969.

For the tournament, Velasquez (five runs scored, 2HR) was the top hitter for the Patriots and was followed by Khawam (6-for-18, 3HR, five RBI), Ambrosino (5-for-15, double), Lugo (5-for-17, two triples) and Collin Woody (4-for-15, 1HR, four RBI).

In the championship game, Miami Dade rode the wave from its win over CF by scoring twice in the seventh to take the lead for good in its win over Polk.

The Sharks saw relief pitcher Patrick Carter fan seven of the 10 batters he faced for save in relief of Jonathan Bermudez, who tied the all-time state tournament record with his third win of the event. Bermudez relieved starter Robert Evans and threw 2 1/3 innings of scorless relief for the Sharks, who won the first state title since 2001 and denied CF its first trip to the state championship game since 2007.