Freshman Sal Vega leaps into his teammates waiting arms after his “called shot” two-run home run capped a five-run inning for the Dragons. Jefferson defeated Green Cove Springs Clay 7-2, and the Dragons advance to its first state championship game in the program’s 78-year history. (Photo by Will Turner, WT Productions)

By Jarrett Guthrie

FORT MYERS – Jefferson’s Sal Vega said he had a feeling during a one-hour rain delay that led into the Dragons’ Class 6A state semifinal game and pointed to a spot toward the left field corner and proclaimed he planned to “park one” there. With just one home run to his name this season, the freshman made good on his word capping a big, five-run third inning with a two-run shot over the fence at Hammond Stadium, helping Jefferson to a 7-2 win over Green Cove Springs Clay, earning the Dragons program its first-ever berth in the state championship game in the program’s 78-year history.

“I was telling my teammates before the game that I was feeling it and I was going to park one right there,” Vega said. “Some of my teammates where like, ‘oh, he called it.’ I worked the count and got the perfect pitch.”

Unlike many independent news organizations, we haven’t put
up a subscription paywall – and we hope to be able to keep bringing you the great stories
from high school athletics in the 813 area free of charge. But we are still a small
business with just a handful of people involved, so there are costs including travel, equipment, and other costs associated with running this business.
We are looking for advertising partners, but we also need to count on our
readers for support. If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps
fund it, we will be able to continue covering these athletes’ endeavors.
Support for as little as $1 by clicking “Donate” button below.

A little luck allowed Jefferson to break a scoreless game in the third innings, and then the Dragons made it hurt scoring five, including Vega’s homer and a big two-run single by Ty Evans.

Our complete postseason coverage is brought to you by 
the Law Offices of George Hunter, P.A

Evans, a senior who had to serve an FHSAA suspension for the last three weeks, said he was focused on making the most of his first game back and making that inning hurt.

“It feels good just to get back out there and support my teammates, because against Jesuit and Dunnellon (in the region tournament) it was tough to not be out there,” Evans said.

Later adding: “We had to score some runs to back up Mike (Dominguez, Jefferson’s starting pitcher), so we had to keep pounding it and hoping they’d fall in there.”

With the run support behind him, Dominguez did his job on the mound as well. The University of Tampa commit worked five-plus innings, picking up the win and striking out a dozen, while allowing just two runs on seven hits.

“They got me a bunch of runs early on and with those runs, I got a little bit more focused,” Dominguez said. “I said, ‘ok, I have a little bit more.’”

“I stayed locked in and threw strikes, got outs and we kept hitting the ball.”

Jefferson junior righty Mike Dominguez was solid on the mound, striking out 12 in five innings of work as the Dragons topped Clay 7-2. (Photo by Will Turner, WT Productions)

The Dragons took control in the third as AJ Mathis drew a leadoff walk, followed by a single for senior Robby Martin. The luck came in for Jefferson as senior Charlie Welch’s groundball deflected off the shortstops glove allowing Mathis to score the game first run on an error. Clay picked up two outs, before Evans found a spot to drive a groundball into left to plate two more. Five pitches later, Vega deposited his home run over the fence in left field.

Jefferson freshman Sal Vega rounds second base after his two-run home run. (Photo by Will Turner)

Jefferson had its leadoff man reach in each of the first six innings of the game.

Clay added a run in the fourth on a leadoff triple from Chase Holman, followed a few pitches later by a balk to score the run. The Blue Devils added another the next inning on a Josh Lemen single.

Jefferson (21-8) added two more in the sixth after the bottom of the lineup got on board and the Dragons got on some key two-out hitting as Martin and Welch each singled in runs.

Jefferson senior Charlie Welch stands at second after his ground ball deflected of Clay’s shortstop and allowed the Dragons first run of the game to score. (Photo by Will Turner)

After allowing two singles to start the bottom of the sixth, Jefferson went to Martin in relief of Dominguez and the senior and FSU signee ended the threat getting a groundball to Oscar Galvez (who was 4-for-4 at the plate) at second, turning a double-play and a pop-fly out to right to end the inning. Martin finished the game on the hill with a 1-2-3 seventh inning.

“Usually when I come in behind (Dominguez) he has me in a good situation,” Martin said. “I knew we would have a lead with him on the mound.”

Jefferson will play for its first state title in the program’s 78-year history on Thursday, scheduled for 4 p.m. at Fort Myers’ Hammond Stadium against Merritt Island (24-6), winner of Wednesday’s other semifinal, defeating Naples Barron Collier 8-2.

Bonus Coverage
Our friend Jay Recher of 620WDAE conducted this interview with Jefferson senior Robby Martin and assistant coach Lou Maggio after Wednesday’s semifinal win. Have a listen here: