TAMPA — Turns out the six-run lead Jefferson spotted Jesuit wouldn’t be enough Friday night.
The Tigers would need all nine runs they scored to hold off a late-inning comeback by the Dragons to win 9-8 at home in a big Class 4A, District 9 matchup.
“This game meant a lot to our guys,” Jesuit coach Riche Warren said. “Winning this game was a statement for us. It got away from us at the end but (Jefferson) really battles.”
Although Jefferson (11-3, 9-1) took its first district loss, the Dragons almost overcame four big errors by scoring two runs in each of the final four innings.
“Usually the team that makes the fewest mistakes is going to win,” Jefferson coach Pop Cuesta said. “We didn’t quit and made it a good game.”
Jefferson looked like it was going to at least tie the game with runners at second and third with two out in the final inning. But Jesuit closer John Kilichowski got Steven Negron to hit a high bouncer to shortstop Lance McCullers, who rifled a throw to first just in time for the final out.
McCullers also was big on offense for the Tigers (10-3, 7-2) with two towering homers, one pulled on the parking garage and the other in the football bleachers, and three RBIs.
County batting average leader Nolan Schultz went 3-4 with three RBIs including a big two-RBI single in the sixth.
Jefferson had balanced hitting with multiple-hit games from Einar Muniz, Negron, Tino Mention and Andre Davis.