SARASOTA — The team that didn't have a head coach until two weeks before the baseball season began — a team that was just over .500 last season — is one win away from a state championship.
Cambridge reached Monday's Class A state semifinal by preaching pitching and defense, but against Deltona Trinity Christian, the Lancers resoundingly won with their bats.
Cambridge thumped Trinity 18-0, the second-largest rout in a state tournament game since all classifications began playing the state final four at the same site in 1988, to advance to its first baseball state final. The Lancers face defending state champion Jacksonville Eagle's View today at 4 p.m.
"It was a surprise to us, but we know we can play baseball," said Cambridge coach Rick Shears, the school's football coach who assumed a vacant baseball coaching position in January, taking over a 14-12 team.
"We don't concentrate on hitting. Hitting is our third thing we usually do, with pitching and fielding being our first two. … I said we're going to peak at the right time of the year, so maybe that came through."
The Lancers (26-2), who tallied 16 hits, had its top three hitters combine for nine RBIs. Freshman third baseman Andrew Widell was 4-for-4, including a three-run triple in Cambridge's six-run third inning. Junior shortstop Trent Tagliarini was 3-for-3 and also drove in three runs.
"We're on a high right now," Widell said. "We just can't wait to roll in tomorrow and play the game of baseball."
Trinity (21-10) coach Mike Maples called Cambridge the best offense his team had faced all season.
"They just tore the cover off the ball," said Trinity starter Ryan Hadden, who lasted just two innings plus four batters.
Every Cambridge starter scored a run. Five had multiple hits. After taking an 11-0 lead in three innings, the Lancers piled on seven more in the fifth.
"We jumped out quickly," Tagliarini said. "From the score, it seemed like everybody was seeing (the ball) pretty well. People have stayed after practice all year long to hit, and I think it showed."
Cambridge allowed just two hits in the game, and only one runner reached second after the first. With the game seemingly in hand, Shears pulled starter Michael Miller in the bottom of the third to save him for today's title game.
Seldom-used Logan McDougall earned the win with three relief innings, not allowing a hit until the second-to-last batter.