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4A-9 baseball: Jefferson stuns Jesuit for title

LUTZ — Gathering dust underneath the old high school locker of former Jefferson standout and major-leaguer Luis Gonzalez is a pile of makeshift tombstones the Dragons would make every time they beat a nationally ranked team.

Before Jefferson's Class 4A, District 9 championship game against Jesuit, longtime Dragons coach Pop Cuesta pulled out the testaments to victories past.

"There's a bunch of them there," Cuesta said. "I told them, 'We can add one (Friday night). If you come hard to play, you can play with these guys.' "

And backed by a spectacular pitching performance, timely hitting and clutch fielding, the Dragons pulled off yet another upset over a national power, beating the Tigers 3-2 on Friday night at Steinbrenner.

By beating Jesuit — ranked eighth nationally by ESPNRise — Jefferson (20-7) won its first district title since 2005, clinching a region quarterfinal home game Tuesday against Lakewood Ranch.

Lanky sophomore right-hander Jimmy Herget foiled the Tigers with his sidearm delivery, tossing a five-hitter while striking out eight.

Herget didn't know he'd be able to pitch until three hours before the game. He took a ball off his pitching hand while hitting during Thursday's upset win over Steinbrenner.

"I felt good (Friday)," Herget said. "I was just trying to keep the ball low because they're a very good hitting team."

Jesuit (25-3), which must travel to Osceola for a region quarterfinal matchup Tuesday, stranded four runners in scoring position in the first four innings against Herget.

Jefferson second baseman Einar Muniz scored the first run in the first inning and hit a two-out, run-scoring double to bring in the eventual winning run in the fifth inning.

Centerfielder Andre Davis also had an RBI double in the fifth inning.

After George Horrnik's RBI double in the fifth made the score 3-1, Davis made a catch against the centerfield wall on Lance McCullers' deep drive, holding the Tigers to a sacrifice fly.

Dragons catcher Alex Rivera threw out two Jesuit baserunners, including the potential tying run with one out in the bottom of the seventh.

"We're happy; I'm exhausted," Cuesta said. "I've seen many times what they can do. It's a great win for these guys. Everybody contributed. Everybody did a great job. We're going to enjoy this one."

. Up next

Region quarterfinals

Games Tuesday at 7 unless noted.

6A: Sarasota at Alonso

6A: Plant at St. Petersburg

5A: Springstead at Armwood

5A: Plant City at Forest

5A: Manatee at King

5A: Gaither at Venice

4A: Jesuit at Osceola

4A: Lakewood Ranch at Jefferson

3A: Tampa Catholic at Fort Meade

2A: Tampa Prep at Lakeland Christian

A: Citrus Park at All Saints'

A: Manatee HEAT at Cambridge, 4

4A-9 baseball: Jefferson stuns Jesuit for title 04/30/10 [Last modified: Friday, April 30, 2010 11:29pm]
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