Seven Run Third Lifts Coral Reef Into 9A Title Game
Sometimes it is not the teams with the most talent that win state championships, but teams with top talent that get hot at the right time. That has been the case for Coral Reef, a team that went 13-10 during the regular season.
The Barracudas faced a worthy opponent in the 9A state semifinal in Timber Creek, a perennial state power. After falling behind 3-0 in the first two-and-a-half innings, Coral Reef exploded for seven runs in its half of the third, then held on for a 7-4 semifinal win.
“The record is what it is,” said Coral Reef Manager Chris Leon. “But we don’t build our schedule to win games during the regular season. We create a tough schedule to make sure we can win games now, because this is when the wins count.”
Patrick Roth took the mound for the Barracudas, and although he gave up three runs early, the junior settled in and gave Reef six innings, scattering seven hits.
“We have rode Patrick all year,” said Leon. “He has been our guy on the mound, and he did a great job of settling down today after those early runs.”
The game could not have started better for Timber Creek, putting up one run in the second on a Shady faran double, and then two more in the third. Consecutive singles off the bats of Andrew Spolyar and Jake Johnson gave the Wolves a 3-0 lead.
In their half of the third, however, the Barracuda bats woke up. Manny Doran was hit by a pitch leading off the inning. Sean Londono and Dylan Boyd followed with back to back singles. After a fielder’s choice, Brent Cosculluela singled, cutting the lead to 3-2.
Shawn Perez doubled, Ryan Scarry tripled, and Jake Ogden had a bunt base hit, and the seven run inning was complete.
The Barracudas, who came to states for the first time ever, had scored seven runs in the inning.
“For us, it doesn’t matter whether we were here for the first time or not,” said Leon. “The game is the game, and we have been playing it well the past few weeks. These guys are confident that no matter what happens during the game, we can win it.”
Another area where Coral Reef has flipped the script is the idea that pitching dominates at states.
“We know we have a good lineup and we can score runs,” said Perez. “Once we get rolling, it’s contagious.”
The Wolves, stunned by the seven run inning, tried to rally in the seventh. The y scored one run, and put the tying runs on base before Michael Ogden induced a game-ending fly ball, sending the Barracudas to their first-ever state championship game appearance.
“We may be here for the first time, but we know what we are capable of, and we expect to win,” said Leon.
The Wolves finished their season 24-6, and like many teams, are left pondering a play here or there that could have made a difference.
“One bad inning does not define our season,” said Wolves Manager Tim Beaman. “We will digest this one for a few days and then will get back to work for next year with our sophomores and juniors.”
Coral Reef will face Seminole in the 9A championship game on Saturday, at 12:30.