Baseball: King tops Mitchell, reaches semifinal
King pitcher Brett Morales was a man among boys Friday night against Mitchell.
The senior hurler struck out a career-high 17 batters to help carry King to its second state semifinal berth in four years, as the Lions defeated Mitchell 4-1 in the Class 6A-Region 3 final. King (25-3) will take on Lynn Haven Mosley, a 10-6 winner against Middleburg, on May 22 in Fort Myers in a Class 6A state semifinal..
“He carried us on his back tonight,” King coach Jim Macaluso said of Morales, whose previous career best in strikeouts was 13. “He’s the guy who says ‘Get on my back and I’m taking you to Fort Myers.’ He did it in a humble way, and he knew it.
“I’ve seen something in his eyes yesterday and coming into today.”
That something was a man on a mission, and Morales set the tone early by striking out two Mitchell batters in the top of the first inning.
But outfielder Eddie Goscicki launched a 2-1 offering from Morales over the right-field fence to give the Mustangs (24-6) a 1-0 lead.
From there, Morales owned the Mitchell lineup. He allowed just two more hits and struck out 15 of the next 21 batters he faced.
King opened up its scoring in the bottom of the third inning when Devin Pedro scored on a bloop single that turned into a two-base error. The run tied the game at 1-1 and the next batter, Jose Lopez, would reach on another error to give King a 2-1 lead.
The Lions added another run and that’s all Morales needed. He allowing just three hits and one walk while throwing 98 pitches.
“I felt a little extra juiced up,” Morales said. “It has been the whole team’s goal from the beginning of the season. I couldn’t be any prouder of the team. We’ve hit the ball well, played defense and pitched well.
“I couldn’t ask for anything better.”