Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Sports

Saladino baseball: Alonso, Plant reach semifinals

BRANDON — The last time Alonso right-hander Alex Faedo took the mound in the Saladino Tournament, the then-lesser known prospect threw himself into the limelight with a tournament-record 17 strikeouts in a win against Plant City.

Before Wednesday's Saladino quarterfinal against Bloomingdale, Faedo's second start this season, the Florida commitment refused to let the expectations of last year's triumph weigh on him.

"I didn't even think about it," he said.

Faedo pitched five innings, striking out seven and giving up seven hits, then his relievers held on for a 5-4 victory, Alonso's fifth one-run win of the year. The Ravens (12-1) advanced to today's semifinal against Plant (9-2), a 9-1 winner in five innings against Leto.

Bloomingdale (6-6), who reached the quarterfinal round as a wild card, quickly proved that Faedo's outing wouldn't be as memorable as last season. Doug Sandberg tripled in the first inning and the Bulls grabbed a 2-0 lead.

But Alonso knows a thing or two about close games. In Saladino pool play Tuesday, Sam Davidson knocked in the winning run in the bottom of the seventh of a 3-2 victory over Sickles.

On Wednesday, the Ravens answered with one run in the bottom of the first, then scored four in the second to take a 5-2 edge. Ryan Mejia, who had two hits, drove in one run during the four-run second.

And when Bloomingdale's Conrado Skepple tripled and then scored on a pass ball in the fifth, cutting Alonso's lead to one, Faedo said he wasn't worried.

"All year we've done it," he said. "I think everyone knows, it doesn't matter the situation, we can still win."

In the seventh, Alonso freshman left-hander Spencer Bodanza got one out but a pair of walks put runners on first and second.

Then it was time to call on Ryan Fernandez, who has five saves.

"All throughout my life I've had coaches that give me pressure and put me in the situations. I've learned to deal with the situations," Fernandez said. "I'm just always calm. You can't (have nerves) when you're closing."

Fernandez got the first hitter to bounce back to the mound for a putout at first, advancing the runners to second and third. Then Fernandez struck out the next hitter to end the game, sending Alonso a step closer to its first Saladino title since 2011.

Alonso coach Landy Faedo, Alex's father, said his team's play was far from perfect, but the biggest takeaway was moving on.

"They battled and they kept chipping away, a run here, a run there," the older Faedo said. "They said if you can win your one-run ball games in a season, you're having a good year. That's what we've been doing."

In the first quarterfinal that ended early because of rain, Plant's Kyle Tucker had two hits, including an RBI during a five-run third inning against Leto (7-5). It was Tucker who hit a two-run homer Tuesday to beat King 3-2 in pool play. Right-hander Jake Bak, who gave up four hits over five innings, also had two singles and an RBI.

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