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Plasencia does it all for Tigers

The Tiger rightfielder opens the game with a defensive gem and later provides the big hit.

Jacksonville Bishop Kenny's first hitter of the game lofted a ball toward rightfield, and Jesuit's Danny Plasencia had one thing _ only one thing in the entire world _ on his mind.

"It was the ball," Plasencia said. "My eyes did not get off the ball. I was running, but my focus was totally on the ball, on the ball, on the ball "And then the fence happen to run into me."

And how.

The ball hit Plasencia's mitt just as he flipped head over heals into the bullpen.

"The next thing I knew, I was on my back," he said. "Then I lifted up the ball to show the umpire I had it so he didn't think I picked it up off the ground."

The batter was out, thousands of Jesuit fans were roaring and the tone was set for Jesuit's eventual 4-1 state championship victory.

"After that catch," Plasencia said, "I think everybody was juiced."

In the third, it was Plasencia's turn again. He came to the plate with no outs and a runner on first.

Jesuit led 1-0, and coach John Crumbley held to his original plan of bunting, playing it conservative in a game he expected to stay tight.

Plasencia fouled off a bunt attempt and then, to his surprise, Crumbley gave him the hit-away sign.

"I saw he wanted me to hit, and I got a really good feeling," Plasencia said. "I knew I was going to come through with the hit. I really felt it."

On the next pitch, he hit a shot down the rightfield line. Loren Prive scored, and Plasencia slid in for a triple for a 2-0 lead.

"Once we showed bunt, I knew it wasn't a surprise anymore," Crumbley said. "Plus, (Plasencia) is our best hitter. At that moment, I didn't want to take the bat out of his hands."

And as if that weren't enough, Plasencia also did something a few people might not realize.

With two outs in the fifth, a ball flew toward the gap and Tiger centerfielder Shane Robinson lost it in the lights. If the ball dropped, a runner would have scored and tied it at 2.

"I was worried because I didn't hear anybody calling it," Plasencia said. "So I started calling it. And everybody cleared out, and I got it."