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Sarasota shuts down Nova's bats

SARASOTA 1, NOVA 0: Jason Miller survives a seventh-inning rally to put the Sailors in the Class 5A title game.

Power outages struck more than just Ybor City on Friday.

Davie Nova entered the night's Class 5A semifinal with a No. 23 national ranking in the Fox Fab 50 poll, a 31-2 record and a gaudy 10.5-runs per game average.

Yet for the first time this season, the Titans were rendered scoreless courtesy of Sailors ace Jason Miller, who fought off a thrilling seventh-inning rally to seal Sarasota's 1-0 victory.

Thus, the stage is set for today's 4 p.m. Class 5A title game showdown against Merritt Island at Legends Field.

"I'm pumped," the 12-0 Miller said.

"I want to win this thing."

The Sailors' storied program has won seven state titles, two national titles and has never lost a final since 1988.

Getting to the final was the problem Friday night, though, as Nova almost took Sarasota's place in that dramatic seventh.

"Do you mind if I remove the cotton from my mouth?" a relieved Sailors coach Clyde Metcalf joked afterward.

With one out on the scoreboard and Miller starting to tire on the mound, the Titans' Jeff Timmons singled to leftfield. Then Michael Morse launched a deep single to leftfield and Greg Sherman belted a sacrifice to deep center to advance both.

"We hit a 400-foot ball," Titans coach Pat McQuaid said. "Any other park, it's 3-1."

Not against Legends' 408-foot centerfield fence, though. So with two outs and runners on second and third, Miller got Nova pitcher Kyle Ruwe to hit a grounder to Sarasota first baseman Matt Gibson. Gibson flipped the ball to Miller, who barely beat the runner to tag first and end it.

"I got a little nervous," Miller said.

"But I fought through it. I've been in those types of situations before."

Miller struck out 11 and allowed just four hits.

The Sailors' offense came alive briefly in the bottom of the first. Gibson hit a deep double. Nova centerfielder Jeff Fiorentino dived for the ball but couldn't keep it in his glove when he hit the ground.

Ryan Schuetz's deep single to center scored Gibson, and that was all Sarasota (27-7) needed.

Sailors' freshman James Houser (3-1) will start today, probably against the Mustangs' Kevin Deaton (12-1).