BRANDON — Mitchell's Jakob Mattos and Brandon's Antonio Velez stood toe-to-toe for eight innings. Both starters spent the night mowing through the other team's order with their seasons hanging in the balance.
Mattos blinked first.
Velez pitched a gem and delivered the two-out, winning hit in extra innings as Brandon (20-6) moved on to next week's Class 7A region semifinals with a 1-0 win against Mitchell (22-7) Wednesday night.
"I kept telling our coaches I need Velez to come up with a runner in scoring position," Brandon coach Matt Stallbaumer said. "The kid has ice water in his veins. He loves the moment."
Tyrek Bell got hit on a 3-2 pitch to open the eighth and moved to second on a Teddy Flynn sacrifice bunt. Bell then advanced to third on a groundout before Velez turned on an elevated fastball and drove it through the hole on the right side for the win.
Velez gave up four hits, fanned eight and didn't walk a batter on the night. The USF signee never faced more than four hitters in an inning and allowed just two runners past second.
"I'd heard (Mattos) was good, so I knew I had to bear down and be a little better," Velez said.
Velez got some help from his defense in the fourth. Flynn made a tremendous backhand play near the second base bag to gun down a runner at first. Then with a runner on third later in the inning, shortstop Nico Saladino ranged far up the middle to throw out another at first to keep it scoreless.
"(Saladino) saved a run right there," Stallbaumer said. "What a play."
Mattos was nearly as good, scattering six hits and striking out six. The Eagles got the leadoff runner on in each of the first three innings but Mattos wiggled out of the jams each time.
"They are both shutdown pitchers," Mitchell coach Scot Wilcox said. "You need a clutch hit. That's what was going to win that game, a clutch hit. Velez got his opportunity and he deserved it. You have to tip your hat."