BRADENTON — Mitchell slugged its way past Braden River on Thursday at IMG Academy in a rainout makeup of Tuesday's Class 7A region semifinal. The Mustangs banged out 15 hits in a 13-3 mercy-rule win that ended in the fifth inning.
That victory earned the Mustangs just their second region final berth in school history. Mitchell, which lost to King in that round in 2013, hosts Venice on Tuesday.
"It's the beginning of a tradition," Mitchell athletic director Ian Mooney said.
"It's a big deal and you've all earned it," first-year coach Howard Chittum, a former longtime Ridgewood assistant who came out of retirement this season, told the team.
Mitchell built leads of 4-1 and 7-2 before breaking the game open with six runs in the top of the fifth. Twelve batters came to the plate that inning in a rally fueled by Zach Henderson's RBI double and RBI singles from Jackson Miller and Mike Risener.
Johnny Arcaro, who had a sacrifice fly in the fifth, also hit a two-run single in Mitchell's three-run fourth.
Henderson went 3-for-3 with two RBIs, leadoff hitter Jordan Garcia had two hits and two RBIs, and Kyle Lang reached base all four times with two singles, a walk and was hit by a pitch.
Mitchell (23-6) won its ninth straight game, outscoring the opposition by a whopping 85-17 margin in that stretch that followed a 6-0 loss to Springstead.
"We're on fire," said Chittum, adding that after the Springstead game, "I think we did a little soul searching. They're seeing the ball good."
On the mound, Mitchell ace Jake Mattos scattered four hits and allowed two earned runs with two strikeouts and a walk. The senior right-hander settled down after giving up two hits and a run in the first.
"He generally gets better as the game progresses," Chittum said of Mattos, who improved to 10-1. "He's just an athlete and a competitor."