TAMPA — Tyler Jones had already worn the Superman cape — a cotton blanket often given to Jefferson's player of the game — this season. But last time, disappointment soon followed.
The sophomore was the winning pitcher in a comeback win against Strawberry Crest that catapulted Jefferson to its fourth straight Saladino Tournament final. A shutout loss to Plant soon followed, though. And as the Dragons' record worsened, so did their spirits.
"It changed a little bit after Saladino. They were kind of down," Jefferson coach Pop Cuesta said. "But then they started playing a little bit better baseball. They found ways to come back. And you could see momentum building a little bit."
That was no clearer than Thursday's Class 6A, District 7 final. Jefferson took an early lead against King and kept pounding for an 11-1 six-inning win.
"Coming into districts, we talked about how we needed energy because we gave up on ourselves a lot this season," said Daniel Almonte, who went 3-for-4 with two runs scored.
"We showed it (Thursday)."
The Dragons (19-8) totaled 23 hits between its quarterfinal and semifinal wins and added 14 against King. The Lions, though, didn't help their case.
After Trey Robinson doubled in the first, he advanced to third on a balk and scored on an error. King walked two and committed three errors in the third. It committed two more errors in the fourth.
The Lions also couldn't get it together on offense.
King (20-5), which beat Jefferson in both regular-season matchups, came in hitting .305. Against Jones, who pitched a complete game, it mustered only three hits. Third baseman Bubby Terp singled in its only run in the third.
After the game, the Dragons celebrated on King's homefield, chanting Jones' name as they draped the Superman cape around his shoulders. Jones is no stranger to the garment. But Thursday, he said, it felt a little better to wear.
"Yeah," he said through a wide grin, "because it's a district championship."
And this time, the Dragons assured, that energy isn't going anywhere.
5A-9: For a third straight season, Jesuit and Robinson squared off in a district final. The host Tigers made it three in a row Thursday with a 6-2 win.
"They play us tough," Jesuit coach Richie Warren said of the Knights, who lost twice to the Tigers by a combined three runs in the regular season.
"But we've just been lucky enough to capitalize on mistakes and score some runs."
Ryan McCullers led Jesuit (20-6) at the plate and in the field. The senior catcher hit two RBI singles and picked off two runners at first, one in the seventh.
"Ryan's our leader, and he's been that way for four years now," Warren said.
Sophomore left-hander Michael Sandborn, a midseason call-up from the junior varsity after nine players were suspended for violating school policy, earned the win. He allowed four hits, struck out four, walked one and hit a batter.
"He threw the ball well," Warren said.
"As a sophomore, that's a big spot to pitch in a district (title) game."
McCullers drove in Steven Lugo with a single in the first. But Robinson (9-15) got that run back in a hurry. Nathan Doherty hit a leadoff single and scored on a 4-6-3 double play.
The Tigers went ahead with five in the third. Robinson made two errors, and pitcher Tommy Craparo balked, leading to three unearned runs. McCullers and Danny Lastra singled in runs.
Robinson added a run in the fourth on Shawn Herron's infield single that plated Omar Maldonado, who also reached on an infield single.
Times correspondent Steve Lee contributed to this report.