CLEARWATER — Northside Christian came closer to beating Calvary Christian than any other team last season. The Mustangs may have earned that distinction again this season.
They scored a two-out run in the seventh inning to tie Tuesday night's game, only to give up a run in the bottom of the eighth inning in what turned out to be a 2-1 Warriors' win. Last season, it was Calvary Christian that scored in the seventh inning and eventually won 2-1 in nine innings. The Warriors went on to win the Class 4A state championship and finish the season 30-0.
"Lucky dogs," Calvary Christian coach Greg Olsen said prior to his post-game team meeting.
The Warriors improved to 16-0 and their win streak is now 46 games. There was indeed a little bit of luck and a lot of skill for Calvary Christian to keep its streak alive.
In the second inning, the Warriors got the game's first run. Ryan Coleman ripped a double off Northside Christian starter Kyle Goldberg that scored Cavan Ingram to make it 1-0. Coleman was thrown out at third trying to stretch the hit into a double.
It looked like that would be enough for Calvary Christian starter Nolan Hudi. Through 4 2/3 innings, Hudi didn't give up a hit or a walk. Colton Olasin broke up the no-hitter with an infield single.
The next hit didn't come until the seventh inning. With one out, Ian Hislop got a solid single up the middle. Pinch runner Luke Vari moved into scoring position on a passed ball. With two outs, Ty McGeehan walked to put two runners on. That brought up Olasin.
Both Vari and McGeehan moved to third and second respectively on another passed ball. Olasin had two strikes, but then laced a hit up the middle to score a run. McGeehan was thrown out at home to keep the score 1-1.
"I just had a mental breakdown," Warriors catcher Matheu Nelson said of the passed balls. "I just wasn't focused on those pitches that went to the wall. That run was all on me."
Hudi gave up three hits in his seven innings and struck out 12. Two of those hits were to his friend Olasin.
"We go way back," Hudi said. "I gave him a glare when he got that hit. I was like 'Geez.' We joked about it after the game."
Hudi gave way to Braden Halladay in the eighth inning. Halladay got three quick outs to keep the game tied. While Hudi was no longer pitching, he remained the designated hitter.
Nelson led off the eight with a walk. Hudi was up next and had a feeble swing on reliever Corey Yawn's first fastball. But on the second pitch he laced a towering fly ball to center. The ball landed near the warning track, which allowed Nelson to score the winning run.
"I was 100 percent looking for change up because (Yawn) was making us look bad on it all night and I got the fastball," Hudi said. "I knew I squared it up and it could be something special."
Goldberg pitched four innings for the Mustangs (9-5) and allowed only one earned run. Yawn relieved in the fifth and was stellar until the last inning. He struck out seven and had a stretch of four straight strike outs.
"It kind of hurts a bit," Northside Christian coach Raul Hernandez said. "That's a great team. They haven't won forty-something in a row because they are average. They bring the best out of us and hopefully we bring the best out of them."