BRANDON — Alonso coach Landy Faedo had a weird feeling entering Friday's Saladino Tournament championship game that leadoff hitter Tito Martinez might give the Ravens the early spark they needed.
Martinez wasted little time, taking the second pitch of the game over the leftfield stands and fueling the Ravens' 6-2 win over district rival Gaither to win their second Saladino title in three years.
"He's been stinging some balls and just missing stuff," Faedo said. "He ignites us and gets us going. … I just had a feeling he'd hit a home run today."
The tournament belonged to the bats of Ravens teammates Tyler Ding and Thomas Dorminy, who led an offensive attack that averaged nearly 10 runs a game, but it was Martinez's leadoff shot that got the Ravens going.
"After that home run, we knew it was ours," said Ding, one of eight Ravens players who were on the 2007 Alonso team that claimed the Saladino title. "We knew what it was going to take to get it done."
Martinez wasn't one of those eight. He made the all-tournament team last season when Alonso advanced to the semifinals, but as a Sickles freshman, he watched Alonso win the Saladino from the stands two years ago.
"I wanted to be a part of it," he said. "I thought this would be our year. I knew we had a good team and that we could go all the way.
"Whatever it was, curveball, fastball, we were on it during this tournament. Everybody on this team can do the job. There's no pressure on us. If one guy doesn't do well, another guy can pick us up."
Dorminy was 3-for-4 and Ding and third baseman Casey Smit added two hits apiece for Alonso (19-2).
Mike Danner and Drew Doty hit home runs for the Cowboys (16-5), but it wasn't enough to prevent Gaither's third loss to Alonso this season, ending a nine-game winning streak.
"If anyone told you we'd be here in the beginning of the season with what we have, I would have bet the house against it," Gaither coach Frank Permuy said. "I didn't think we were capable of being in the finals."
Winning the tournament has served as a springboard into a deep postseason for recent champions. Three of the past four champions have reached the state semifinals, with the Ravens advancing to the region final in 2007.
"I hope history keeps repeating itself," Faedo said. "I want them to enjoy what happened this week and be humble and understand there's a lot more at stake now."