TAMPA — This Alonso season began with legitimate aspirations of getting to state.
But a loss to Gaither in the district tournament final last week forced the Ravens on the road in the region round. After a bus trip to Lakeland on Tuesday, Alonso found itself back at Gaither for Friday's Class 6A region semifinal.
It was the fifth meeting between the teams, and though Alonso won three of them, Gaither prevailed when homefield was on the line.
But the Ravens had the last laugh, ending the Cowboys' season on Friday with an ugly 10-8 win. Alonso (26-3) earned another bus trip, a region final berth at Melbourne next week — this time with a trip to Port St. Lucie and the state final four on the line.
"It wasn't the path we wanted to take," junior Thomas Dorminy said, "But hey, we got where we wanted to go."
Trailing 5-4 after two innings, Alonso took the lead with a three-run third — without getting a hit — by taking advantage of three errors. At the end of the third, the Ravens had seven runs on just three hits.
"We feed off that," Alonso shortstop Tito Martinez said. "It's a big boost for us when they make errors and we capitalize."
Gaither tied the score at 8 after five innings, but Chris Mejia's RBI single and a sacrifice fly by Martinez gave the Ravens the lead for good. Credit reliever Jordan Huchro, who pitched 22/3 scoreless innings before Dorminy shut the door in the seventh.
Cowboys centerfielder Drew Doty set a school record with his 10th homer of the season, a three-run shot in the first. Brady North also homered for Gaither (23-7), while Dorminy hit a solo blast in the fourth for Alonso.
"Our pitching always gives us a chance, but today was different," Alonso coach Landy Faedo said. "We had to come out and battle today. But you know what? If you want to reach that final show, you're going to have to overcome different situations."