SEFFNER — As the wildest doubleheader of his life crept into its waning stages Friday, Armwood coach Mike Wrenn learned a bit about his team's resilience. And his resuscitation.
"I think I died about three or four times and came back to life," Wrenn said.
The final defibrillation occurred in the ninth inning of Game 2 of the best-of-three region final against Oviedo Hagerty.
A sacrifice fly by Joe Cartwright in the top of the inning gave Armwood a 5-4 lead. A 1-2-3 inning by Sean Cramer allowed it to stand.
And so ended a riveting, wrenching Hawks triumph that completed a sweep and sent them to their first state semifinal.
"It was intense," said Josh Spano, who caught all 16 innings. "I love close games. It makes baseball fun. We've got a good team. I knew we were going to win."
Armwood (26-5) coasted to an 11-2 triumph in Game 1 behind Robert Benincasa's two-hitter and led the nightcap 4-0 entering the bottom of the sixth.
Then in one fell swat — actually, it was two — things got interesting. Zack Powers, who allowed only one hit through the first five innings, gave up a pair of two-run home runs, tying it at 4.
"He got tired," Wrenn said. "He was up there in pitch count (around 90), a little higher than we wanted."
Enter Cramer, who recorded strikeouts with runners in scoring position to escape the sixth and eighth. In the seventh, with two outs and runners on first and second, Spano nailed Tyler Marlette, who hit one of the homers, trying to steal third.
"(Cramer) is our No. 3 guy, and we said we're going to win this here and just leave it at that," Wrenn said. "We were playing to win."
Armwood loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh but failed to get a run across, the inning ending with Kristian Calibuso (3-for-4) grounding into a double play.
Two innings later, Cartwright's high fly to center scored Jordan Fameree, who led off with a walk, moved to second on Billy Farrell's walk and reached third on Ty Alexander's sacrifice bunt.
The first game was the polar opposite in terms of suspense. In what he deemed a sluggish effort, Benincasa (12-0) threw 108 pitches, striking out five and walking three. The only hit he allowed that exited the infield was a sixth-inning two-run home run by Marlette.
"I struggled with control," said Benincasa, who has signed with Florida State. "Normally, I'm able to sneak it inside of batters. (Friday), I wasn't throwing anything inside. My arm started getting sore early, which never happens."
Farrell led Armwood's 12-hit onslaught, finishing 3-for-3 with a double and four runs. Cartwright sparked the Hawks' five-run sixth with a two-run home run.