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Class A baseball: Cambridge gets another shot at state title

PORT ST. LUCIE — As Cambridge boarded the team bus for Tradition Field on Wednesday afternoon, the Lancers had to be prepared for anything.

In their second straight trip to the Class A state tournament, the Lancers found themselves in the middle of controversy — and confusion.

Their semifinal opponent, Lake Worth Trinity Christian, had been dealt suspensions to all but one of its players for the team's involvement in a bench-clearing brawl last week.

And while Cambridge dodged raindrops warming up on the practice field behind the stadium, Trinity Christian was in a courtroom trying to earn its biggest win of the year — a court injunction to allow its suspended players to play for a state title.

The Warriors arrived just 30 minutes before the scheduled first pitch, a judge's ruling on their side that allowed all but two of the suspended players to play. Cambridge coach Rick Shears saw his opponents come off their bus in full uniform.

And then the Lancers made it all moot, beating the Warriors 12-6 to earn their second consecutive trip to the A title game, where they will play Deltona Trinity Christian at 4 p.m. today.

"I know the other team had an emotional roller coaster but so did we," Shears said. "I was tired of thinking about all the different scenarios today, so when we were able to get out there and play, it just made me happy. A big sense of calmness came over."

The Lancers (21-7) took advantage of four Trinity errors, jumping out to a 10-2 lead after 2½ innings.

And junior pitcher Matt Fishman, who was told he would start just before the game when Cambridge learned Trinity would have most of its team intact, gutted out six strong innings. The Warriors rapped 13 hits off Fishman but couldn't break through with a big inning.

"I was struggling all day," Fishman said. "I didn't have my best stuff. Today it was harder to focus, but we really buckled down and took care of business."

He could thank his defense, which he said was "a wall" behind him and gave him a pivotal 4-6-3 inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the fourth in a 10-4 game.

Shortstop Trent Tagliarini and catcher Andrew Widell had three hits each, and Tagliarini drove in three runs, including a two-run single that was the key hit in a five-run third inning. No. 9 hitter Josh Hanna also drove in three, including two on a two-out, two-run single in the sixth that put the game away.

"They're a good team, probably not a powerhouse, but you saw the game," Trinity coach Miguel Cuello said. "All you have to do is make contact. That's it."

Trinity's fight will continue in the upcoming days in the courts, where the FHSAA has filed an appeal to the injunction. And if the players are found ineligible, the FHSAA could levy fines in the range of $35,000 for playing Wednesday's game.

"We're going to make sure our teams follow good sportsmanship conduct," FHSAA executive director Roger Dearing said. "They are voluntary members of the FHSAA and they will play by the FHSAA's rules. Trying to get around it in the courts is an act of derision in our bylaws, so they will suffer the consequences."

Meanwhile, Tagliarini, one of Cambridge's three seniors, reminisced of summer ball, when a state final loss was still fresh in the players' minds. They made a motto then.

"Unfinished business," he said. "I think we're ready to take it this time. Nobody wants second."

FAST FACTS

State baseball semifinals

At Tradition Field, Port St. Lucie. Admission is $8 per session.

Wednesday's Results

Class A: Deltona Trinity Christian 14, Jacksonville Eagle's View 11; Cambridge 12, Lake Worth Trinity Christian 6

Class 3A: Plantation American Heritage 9, Fort Pierce John Carroll 3; Jacksonville Bolles vs. Ocala Trinity Catholic, 8 p.m.

Today's games

Class A final: 4 p.m.

Class 3A final: 7 p.m.

On the Web

If you can't make it down to Port St. Lucie, we'll be live blogging all the games our local teams are involved in at blogs.tampabay.com/preps

Cambridge 12
Lake Worth Trinity Chr. 6

Class A baseball: Cambridge gets another shot at state title 05/20/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 20, 2009 11:53pm]
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