Jesuit players rush the field after Jack Martinez drove in the deciding run in the George M. Steinbrenner Wood Bat Classic (390).

By Jarrett Guthrie

TAMPA – Jesuit rallied twice, forced extras and walked away a winner for the second-straight season in the first of two eight-team George M. Steinbrenner Wood Bat Classic tournaments this Fall. The Tigers went undefeated in pool-play, before Jesuit earned its spot in the final defeating East Lake on Tuesday.

In the final against Sickles, Jesuit got a steadying relief showing from Jackson Shembekar as the game pushed into extra innings, before Jack Martinez put a groundball down toward the left side and scored the winning run, 6-5.

A two-out Jack Martinez slap on the ground allowed Jesuit to push the winning run across in the eighth inning (391).

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Sickles jumped ahead quickly as Hayden Yost opened the game with a triple and crossed the plate on an RBI single from Kohl Robertson.

But the Tigers answered quickly, as BJ Graham belted a two-run home run to right, and Jake Kulikowski extended the lead with an RBI single later in the inning.

Jesuit senior BJ Graham smashed a two-run home run to right field to give Jesuit its first lead in the home half of the first (392).

Jesuit starter Ryan Denison and Sickles reliever Bobby Christy kept things in check over the next few innings, but the Gryphons tacked on four runs in the top of the fifth, keyed by Kyle Mohr going down and slapping an RBI double to give his team the lead.

Sickles’ Kyle Mohr went after a ball low and the zone and came thru for his team, keying a four-run inning (393).

Jesuit, which followed up its 2019 FHSAA State Championship with a win in the normal 16-team Steinbrenner Classic last fall, answered back with a pair of runs from Bradke Lohry and Dominick DeCarlo (running for the catcher Cole Russo) scoring on wild pitches.

Sickles senior Chase Jackson was a workhorse on the mound for the Gryphons, tossing four-plus innings of relief (394).

Sickles senior Chase Jackson, who closed out the Gryphons semifinal win over Jefferson on Tuesday, moved from second to the mound midway through the game and mounted a great effort, working 4 2/3 innings of relief for a pitcher-depleted squad.

But the Tigers offense proved too mighty, loading the bases up in the home-eighth before the groundball from Martinez decided things.

Shembekar notched the win, working 2 1/3 innings on the mound, and later in the evening announced via Instagram his commitment to the University of Tampa.

The Steinbrenner Wood Bat Classic was split into two different tournaments this season due to the pandemic.

Steinbrenner Field will hold its second tournament of the Fall beginning Saturday, where Berkeley Prep, Bishop McLaughlin, Boca Ciega, Freedom, King, Mitchell, Newsome and Tampa Catholic vie for the Fall’s second title.

Jesuit senior Jackson Shembekar (No. 36) is greeted by teammates exiting the field after pitching the seventh innings (395).

Steinbrenner Wood Bat Classic Photo Gallery (10/28/20)