TAMPA — The last pitch of an exhausting doubleheader sailed across the plate, ducking past one final swing of the bat.
The umpire shouted, "Strike three," and with that, Matt Fishman's Cambridge teammates raced toward the pitcher's mound to be part of something special.
The Lancers won Friday's two games of a best-of-three Class A, Region 3 final against Bradenton Christian to claim their second state finals berth, the last in 2001.
Then in Cambridge tradition, the players stood side by side along the outfield foul line and took one long sprint to center as they do with any big win.
For Cambridge, this was huge.
"I don't know about them, but I knew we could do it," said Michael Miller, the pitcher in Game 1. "I really knew we could."
Miller led the Lancers with a complete-game effort in the opener for a 3-2 win. He shook off a solo home run by senior Cole Hudson and leaned on a sound defense to help him overcome three middle innings with runners in scoring position for Bradenton (17-11).
The Lancers (24-2) got all the runs they would need in the bottom of the second when senior Taylor Cabral hit a two-run double down the leftfield line to score Erik Shears and Miller for a 2-1 lead. Cabral later scored from third on a balk to make it 3-1.
Miller found trouble in the seventh after he hit the leadoff batter and gave up an RBI single to sophomore Chase Carter before forcing Zach Thomas to ground out to first for the final out.
The win gave the Lancers momentum and confidence that carried them through a 3-1 win in Game 2. This time it was Fishman's turn on the mound, and again he leaned on crisp defense as his offense made timely hits. In all, the defense turned three double plays.
The Lancers relied on RBI singles from Cabral, Logan McDougall and Andrew Widell in the second, fifth and six innings, respectively.
Miller finished with two walks and a strikeout, and Fishman finished with three strikeouts and three walks. Cabral had two singles, a double, two RBIs and two runs scored overall to lead the Lancers offensively.
Izzy Gould can be reached at izzy
email@example.com or (727)580-5315.