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