TAMPA — Jefferson needed an error to earn its ticket to the state playoffs while Jesuit cruised in the Class 4A, District 9 semifinals at Jesuit on Thursday.
The Tigers had a batter tie a record and a pitcher almost set another in their 5-0 victory over Middleton, and Jefferson won on a two-run error to defeat Steinbrenner in the last inning 2-1.
The teams, who split the regular-season series, will play at 7 tonight.
After a 20-win season, Jefferson was one good throw from not making the playoffs.
Scoreless going into the final inning, Steinbrenner got on the board after a pair of Jefferson errors allowed Steinbrenner’s Jason Wilton to cross the plate for the first run.
Needing a run to tie, Jefferson made a quick out in the bottom of the inning then got two straight singles. A passed ball moved the runners to second and third and an intentional walk loaded the bases with one out.
Jefferson’s Andy Vazquez then hit a grounder to shortstop Jacob Hubbell for the second out. He flipped it to second baseman Christian Diaz, but Diaz’s throw sailed wide and Jefferson scored two runs to escape with the win.
Steinbrenner’s Chris Williams and Jefferson’s Jimmy Herget both went the distance without allowing an earned run — all three runs were unearned.
Tigers pitcher Lance McCullers enjoyed his best high school start as he struck out a whopping 14 batters (four shy of the school record) while giving up just three hits in six shutout innings.
A plus fastball and an overwhelming slider did the damage.
“I felt really good out there tonight,” McCullers said. “I think my fastball command got better as the game went on, and I really felt like I could throw my slider whenever I wanted.”
Jesuit’s Pete Alonso tied the school record for RBIs in a season (45) while going 3-for-3 with a two-RBI single.