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Jesuit gloves snatch victory

It's hard to lose when you've allowed just two earned runs in the past 35 innings.

Then again, it's hard to allow runs when you play defense like Jesuit.

The Tigers did it again Wednesday at Legends Field, beating Royal Palm Beach 2-1 in a Class 4A state semifinal. The win was the product of a last-inning rally, but the foundation was established on entire game of flawless defense and sound pitching.

Leading the way was second baseman Carl Smith, who, in the second, fourth and fifth innings, made sensational plays to rob the Wildcats of three hits.

"I made three mistakes where they hit line drives to second base, and Carl made diving stabs," Jesuit pitcher Richie Warren said. "Carl's been strong all year, whether he's playing second base, shortstop or third base."

"The second baseman made three or four (big plays)," Royal Palm Beach coach Carey Bush said. "That guy just made some great plays."

Despite a persistent, harsh wind whipping in from rightfield that made every fly ball an adventure, the defense made all the plays, sometimes spectacularly, to back up Warren's superb pitching.

Warren allowed four hits, didn't walk a batter, struck out eight and let his defense do the rest. He credited a thorough scouting report for his success.

"I took (the scouting reports) home with me and read them until I fell asleep," he said. "I brought them to the mall with me today."

"The seniors had off today," Jesuit coach John Crumbley interjected to explain why Warren was cruising the mall instead of the school hallway.

How good was the Jesuit defense? Nearly too good. Third baseman David Bartelt helped the Wildcats score their only run in the top of the seventh by having too much range. Bartelt, lunging to his left for a grounder it didn't seem possible he could reach, got a glove on it, knocking it toward second base and allowing a runner to go from first to third on the play.

After a run-scoring single to centerfield put RPB up 1-0, the defense made one final play that turned out to be the game-winner. On the hit, Jesuit centerfielder Shane Robinson threw out a second runner trying to score, keeping it 1-0 and setting up the comeback in the seventh.