BRANDON — If there is such a thing as a clutch performance, Bloomingdale’s Austin Wilson and Tyler Harris delivered two of them Thursday in the Saladino Tournament semifinals. Their two hits produced five RBIs as the Bulls beat Wharton 8-4 to advance to the final, where they will meet Jefferson, for the first time in coach Kris Wilken’s five-year tenure.
“Any championship-caliber team has to come through in the clutch,” Wilken said. “And the clutch is with two outs.”
Wilson, who started on the mound after earning the save the night before against Durant, came up in the bottom of the third with the bases loaded and two out. He worked the count full before delivering a single to centerfield that scored all three runners, thanks in part to Richie Martin running through Wilken’s stop sign.
With that, the game was tied at 3.
“I kind of saw him through the corner of my eye, but my momentum was already taking me home,” said Martin, a Florida commit. “He (Wilken) doesn’t really take that many chances,” he added with a laugh.
“With some of the speed I’ve counted at the top of the lineup, I never know what’s going to happen,” Wilken said. “I don’t even know why I give the signs sometimes.”
Wharton (10-4) retook the lead in the fifth inning when Zack Zaversnik led off with a triple, his third hit of the game, then scored on a wild pitch. But Bloomingdale (13-1) immediately answered in the bottom half of the inning with another two-out hit, this one from Harris.
With a 2-2 count and two on base, Harris sent a shot to leftfield, and Wilson and Garrett Lorenzo scored to make it 5-4.
Bloomingdale added three insurance runs in the sixth, one of which came on a squeeze bunt that scored Raul Lopez from third. That was the only one of Bloomingdale’s eight runs that came with fewer than two outs.
The senior-heavy Bulls, who had never previously made it out of pool play — “we always found a way to blow it, to be honest and not sugarcoat it,” Wilson said — are one win from the school’s first Saladino title since 1995.
Laura Keeley can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3112.