TUESDAY, May 23, 2017

Sailors win Regional and advance to State Semi-Final

Source: Published by Herald-Tribune - Dennis Maffezzoli


SARASOTA - All postseason Clyde Metcalf has said his Sarasota High baseball team has some “dog” in it.


Well, the Sailors have quite a bite, too.


Brooks Larson hit a game-changing, three-run home run in the fifth inning, and Cole Madden moved from catcher to pitcher to get the final six outs as the Sailors’ improbable run continued with a 5-3 victory over defending Class 8A state champion Lutz Steinbrenner in the Class 8A-Region 2 final Tuesday night at Ronald K. Drews field.


The Sailors (23-9) move to the 8A semifinals at 1 p.m. on June 2 at Centurylink Field at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers against Oviedo Hagerty, a 6-2 winner over Lake Gibson.


“We showed it tonight, going down 2-0 in the first and fighting back the whole way,” Madden said. “We’ve got a lot of heart.”


Sarasota went down after the first two batters of the game. CJ VanEyk singled and Tyler Lala launched his second home run of the season with the aid of a nice breeze blowing out to right field off Larson.


“We were pressing tonight,” Sailors coach Clyde Metcalf said. “It was a big stage. It was an incredible atmosphere on both sides. You could just feel it. We pressed early. It was a matter of getting the guys to relax and get into the flow of the game.”


The Sailors got one back in the first when Alex Arauz singled, went to second on a walk, took third on a single by Madden and continued home on an error.


The Warriors (18-10) made it 3-1 in the third with a two-out double and it looked as if Sarasota’s magical postseason would be winding down.


“That fifth inning we were able to string some hits together,” Metcalf said. “And of course Brooks.”


With one out Ben McCabe doubled, advanced to third on a single by Arauz and scored on a sacrifice fly by Madden, who then went to the bullpen to begin warming up for the stretch run if Sarasota somehow took the lead.


After a walk to John Mucci, Steinbrenner went to its third pitcher of the night and first right-hander in Zack Zayas.


While talking to Metcalf, who was coaching third base, Larson watched Zayas warmup.


“He threw eight in a row right down the middle,” Larson said. “I had the mindset going up there and hitting the first pitch.”


Before he went to the batter’s box, Metcalf had some parting words.


“Same thing I tell all of them all the time: just relax,” Metcalf said. “Just have fun and get back to their fundamental base.”


Larson, who had the game-winning hit in the regional semifinal against Tarpon Springs East Lake, has heard those words so many times, he adopted them as his creed.


“He said just have fun,” Larson said. “That’s my motto when I go to the plate every time, just going up there having fun.”


The first pitch was just like the warmups: a fastball down the middle. Larson drilled it over the left-center field wall, sending the packed home side into a frenzy. Larson jumped, skipped and yelled as he rounded the bases with a dugout full of teammates ready to congratulate him, including Madden.


“I was in the ’pen warming up. I saw him hit it and I came sprinting out to congratulate him,” he said. “It was a lot of fun.”


It was not long before Madden took the mound. When the Warriors placed the leadoff hitter on base in the sixth inning, Metcalf did not hesitate in flipping his catcher to the mound.


“I love it. Taking off the gear and coming right onto the mound, I love it,” Madden said. “It’s awesome.”


Showing the heart of a champion itself, Steinbrenner had the tying run at bat in the sixth inning against Madden and placed the tying runs in scoring position with two outs in the seventh.


Madden reared back and threw a fastball down the middle for a called third strike on a 3-2 pitch and it was just a matter of where the Sailors were going to end up for the dogpile.


“This team never gives up and it’s just awesome being part of it,” Larson said.