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Sunset Walks Off St. Brendan To Advance To Regional Final

The Sunset Knights are moving on to the Regional Finals.

The Sunset Knights are going back to the regional finals.

A two-run drive off of the bat of senior center fielder Andres Gonzalez in the bottom of the seventh inning lifted the Knights to a 7-5, walk-off win over the St. Brendan Sabres, in Friday’s 4A regional semifinal. The blast capped a furious comeback that saw the Knights (16-8) score five runs in the final two innings to rally to victory.

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Andres Gonzalez stepped in with the score tied and the deciding runner on base with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. After the count run full, he jumped on the pitch for a swing he will forget.

“It’s an indescribable feeling,” Andres said. “We’ve worked hard for this moment and I wasn’t going to let us go down without a fight.”

Sunset now prepares for a rematch with the Key West Conchs (22-5), who will host the Region 4A-4 Final on Tuesday night at Rex Weech Field in Key West. The Conchs advanced following a 7-2 win over the Miami Springs Hawks in Friday’s other 4A-4 semifinal.

The Sunset Knights celebrate their walk-off win over St. Brendan in the regional semifinals on Friday.

Key West won handily in the District 4A-16 Championship last week, presenting a formidable opponent hosting at a challenging environment. But for a team that won just one game all of last season, this is a dream come true. Be it David or Goliath, either way they are still playing baseball.

For second-year Manager Julio Mendoza, Friday’s big finish is a memory he will never forget. To see his players celebrate together after the countless hours of hard work they put in was its own reward. It takes time to earn opponent’s respect coming off a season like last, and all year long the team did just that.

Just having earned the right to host the game was a big accomplishment, and now the game is forever cemented in program history.

“It was a special moment,” Mendoza said. “They’ve earned it. They’ve prepared and they’ve trusted us every step of the way.”

Early on, that trust was put to the test, as the Sabres (11-9) jumped out with a 1-0 lead in the first and then again pulled ahead with a four-run fourth inning that gave them a 5-1 advantage. Lucas Fernandez delivered the big blow when he doubled with the bases loaded, clearing the bags for a three-RBI two-bagger.

The Knights give Manager Julio Mendoza a celebration shower.

Alexander Perez also had an RBI single that drove in Luis Suarez, who led off the inning with a triple and was 2-for-3 on the day.

The Knights answered right back to cut into the deficit with a run in the bottom of the fourth, when Johan Hidalgo drove in Jonathan Diamond with an RBI double. Daniel Reyes then connected for a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth that pulled his club within a run, and, after Angel Santiago had a one-out double in the seventh, Nick Rodriguez drove in that tying run with an RBI single that set the stage for Andres Gonzalez to finish it off.

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