ESTERO — Lance McCullers came off the bus ready to pitch and the rest of the Jesuit baseball team came ready to hit. Because of their efforts, the Tigers can gas up that bus and head to the state semifinals.
McCullers pitched a five-hitter and Jesuit scored in all but one of its five trips to the plate as the Tigers routed Estero 11-1 in the Class 4A region final Friday night on the campus of Florida Gulf Coast University.
Jesuit was the state runner-up last spring, falling in the title game to Bishop McCarthy. Spencer Trayner led Jesuit with four hits and four RBIs on Friday. Pete Alonso also had three RBIs.
“Lance has a 95 mph fastball and a major-league slider, and he threw both well tonight,” said Jesuit coach Richie Warren.
“We had a great week of practice, a great bus ride here, and a great warmup. And everyone executed well. I’m glad we were able to come out and do this well against a very good team.”
The Tigers (26-6) stopped Estero’s 16-game win streak. It was the Wildcats’ first defeat since March 16. The Tigers wore out Estero (27-3) starter Matt Pearce, who threw 56 pitches in the first two innings. He was eventually lifted in the fourth.
“I was just trying to do whatever I could to help us win,” said Trayner, who missed the cycle by a triple. “The whole team is in this together. Every night, it seems like a different player steps up and plays well. So we’re all glad to go back to the state finals.”
Jesuit scored two in the first when, with one out, Trayner singled and McCullers walked. After both players stole a base, Alonso singled them home to put the Tigers ahead 2-0.
Jesuit then came up with four in the second and scored three in the fourth, highlighted by Alonso’s two-run double and Conor O’Brien’s RBI single. Jesuit got two in the fifth on a two-run single by McCullers.