TAMPA — Just a day after securing the Saladino Baseball Tournament quarterfinal win against Sickles, right-hander Kris Sosnowski entered Tuesday’s semifinal in the second inning. As the innings against Wharton wore on, the Jesuit senior only got better.
The Tigers trailed Wharton when Sosnowski took over, but he dealt the rest of the way, and the Wildcats’ only runs on his watch were scored on a Jesuit error in the outfield.
When Sosnowski walked off the mound in a tie game in the seventh having retired the last six batters he faced, Sosnowski knew he had done his part to get his Tigers to the championship.
He was also pretty confident his offense would return the favor.
“I always believe in my hitters. Our hitters are probably top five in the country,” Sosnowski said. “We know how to hit. I wasn’t worried at all.”
It didn’t take long for senior Tyler Corish to prove him right.
Wharton walked the first batter in the bottom of the seventh, and Corish soon followed with an RBI single to centerfield, driving home the winning run and giving the Tigers the walk-off 6-5 victory.
Prior to that dramatic ending, the Wildcats were giving the nationally-ranked Tigers (No. 6 by MaxPreps) all they could handle.
Wharton outfielder Dylan McDonald walked in the first at-bat of the afternoon, and shortstop Zach Ehrhard singled to rightfield to set up first baseman Billy Eich’s RBI sacrifice fly. Jesuit responded in the bottom of the frame when senior infielder Nick Rodriguez had an RBI single, his first of two in the game.
Every time Wharton made a move Tuesday, the Tigers (10-1) always seemed to have a response. The Wildcats took a 5-4 lead in the fifth inning when sophomore rightfielder Jake Kulikowski missed the catch on a routine fly ball, scoring two. But in the bottom of the inning, Kulikowski got on base because of a Wharton error, and Corish singled to drive him home and tie the score once again.
“We’re not a big small-ball team normally, but that guy is really good on the mound,” Jesuit coach Miguel Menendez said about Wharton starter Ryan Fry. “We just knew it’s one of those things where we figured we were going to try and put pressure on them, and our guys were able to execute.”
Fry came out of the game in the sixth, and Wharton (9-3) reliever Riley Glover retired the first two batters he saw to end the inning. When the Tigers stepped up to bat again in the seventh, Glover walked Kulikowski before Ehrhard came in to relieve him. That’s when Corish ended the back-and-forth affair with one big swing.
“Obviously we love playing in this tournament. It’s the closest thing to playoff baseball, win or go home,” Menendez said. “It’s good for our guys, to see us kind of battle and grind. I was just proud of the way our guys battled back.”
Jesuit hosts Durant in Wednesday’s final.
Jefferson 8, Leto 7
Sickles 12, Alonso 7
Plant 13, Newsome 12
Jesuit 6, Wharton 5
Durant 3, Strawberry Crest 2
Lennard 6, Plant City 5
Bloomingdale 10, Riverview 0
Hillsborough 10, East Bay 7
Freedom 7, King 6
Armwood 12, Carrollwood Day 2
Robinson 7, Brandon 5