BRANDON — For the Alonso baseball team, this Saladino Tournament championship was for the pinkie.
With Alonso's 6-1 win over Plant in Friday night's title game, the Ravens (19-4) became the third team to win back-to-back Saladino titles.
But the Ravens also made history, claiming their third title in four years, a span of dominance never before accomplished in the tournament's 30-year history.
"I guess I'm getting my pinkie ring today," Alonso second baseman Tyler Ding joked. "All year we talk about the Saladino Tournament. With all the history, the talk starts early."
And if the recent history of Saladino winners holds true, the Ravens will have more to celebrate. Last season, they won the school's first state title after winning the Saladino. And dating to 2004, every Saladino winner has advanced to at least the region final.
"Every time we come to the Saladino, we're ready to play," said Alonso shortstop Tito Martinez, the only player to make the all-tournament team three times. "It's great competition, so it gets your confidence up and it makes you believe you can beat any team you can play. Right now, everything's going our way."
On Friday night, Ravens senior left-hander Brandon Johnson made quick work of the Panthers, allowing just one run over six innings, and doing so just three nights after throwing five innings in the pool-play finale.
"We asked him to just give us the best three innings he could give us," Alonso coach Landy Faedo said.
But Johnson's pitch count was low, keeping Plant (14-9) off balance with his mix of fastballs, changeups and curves. Johnson threw just 75 pitches, then gave way to tournament MVP Jose Fernandez in the seventh.
For the tournament, Fernandez was 2-0 with 18 strikeouts in 11 innings. He was also 7-for-16 at the plate.
Both arms were aided by an Alonso defense that turned four double plays, including the game's final outs when Fernandez induced a grounder to short.
"We learn to expect that from our defense because we work on that every day," Johnson said. "Every time you get a double play, you're like, 'Yes, I love it.' "
The Ravens took advantage of three Plant errors in the second inning to take a 3-0 lead, then added to it with back-to-back run-scoring hits by Thomas Dorminy and Fernandez.
Catcher Chris Louth's sixth-inning RBI double added the final run.