PORT ST. LUCIE — Alonso was in trouble again in the state baseball tournament Tuesday night.
But that’s when the Ravens seem to play their best.
With their starting pitcher already out and one of their top relievers having just given up a fifth-inning grand slam, Alonso had lost the lead against Deltona in the Class 6A state final.
But not its confidence.
And just like they did in state title game here two years ago — and most recently 24 hours earlier in the state semifinal — the Ravens rallied late.
Senior Matt Brandy gathered the team in the dugout and calmly looked forward. “We’ve got nine outs. Let’s get it done,” he said.
The Ravens then put up five runs the next half-inning and added three more in the sixth to beat the Wolves 12-7 at Digital Domain Park to win their second state title in three years.
“They’ve learned through all these experiences that it’s not over until it’s over,” Alonso coach Landy Faedo said. “They hit a wave and they rode it all the way. We’ve had better teams talent-wise than these guys, but these guys had more heart. They never gave up and they gave great at-bats. They never put their heads down.”
Alonso (23-5) rallied with four runs in the fourth to take a 4-2 lead, but Deltona responded with a five-spot in the top of the fifth, capped by a grand slam by Devin Raftery to take a 7-4 lead.
“When a guy hits a grand slam like that, your heart drops a little bit. You had just battled back to take the lead,” Brandy said. “But we weren’t out. We were down in ’09. We were down last night.”
Alonso sent nine batters to the plate in its half of the fifth, helped by two walks and two hit batters by Deltona reliever Sam Farina.
“But we got our hits, too,” Faedo said.
The key hit was senior Dylan Gross’ two-run double that hit off the first-base bag and into rightfield, giving Alonso an 8-7 lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
Reliever Nathan Hahn, who gave up the slam to Raftery, went on to retire his last eight hitters to seal the state title.
In mid-March, the Ravens were hovering around .500 at 7-4. They had trouble scoring runs, but moving Brandy to the leadoff spot after a Saladino Tournament loss to Jefferson gave the lineup new life.
They went on to win 16 of their last 17, capping it with Tuesday’s title clinching win.
And if told early in the season they’d score 12 runs in a state title game?
“I probably would have laughed at you,” said Gross, who drove in four runs. “That’s generally not the way we play, but it worked. We won.”