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TAMPA — Alonso will meet Plant for the second straight season in the Class 6A, District 8 final after beating Brandon 4-2 on Wednesday night.
Standout senior pitcher Jose Fernandez threw a complete game, striking out 11 en route to the Ravens’ third victory over Brandon (15-9) this season.
“(Fernandez) does it night after night,” coach Landy Faedo said. “He’s one of the top right-handed pitchers in the country for that reason. There isn’t much else you can say about him.”
At the plate, the Ravens (18-4) worked pitcher Chase Sparkman relentlessly, finding ways to get on base and drive enough runs in to get the job done. Faedo was frustrated, however, with some of the mistakes his team made on the base paths.
“We made some mistakes that took us out of situations where we could have scored some more runs,” Faedo said. “We’ll have to go back and work on that. …I thought we did well to battle at the plate though. We knew who they were going to throw at us and we know he’s a good pitcher who can battle back but we planned for him.”
Plant (18-6) coughed up a two-run lead in the top of the seventh inning against Bloomingdale (15-11), forcing the game into extra innings.
Plant struggled to drive runs in, but a Bloomingdale error allowed the Panthers to win 5-4. In the bottom of the eighth, the catcher dropped strike three on the third out of the inning and had to throw to first to get the out. He committed an error on the throw and the ball rolled into rightfield, allowing the runner on third to score easily.
“In the last few years we’ve had a lot of games like this,” Plant coach Dennis Braun said. “I think you saw the experience of our guys in that they didn’t panic. They knew what happened and they got back on the saddle to get in position to score. …Our district is the best district around here, so it feels good to be back in the final.”