To win the title at the revered Tony Saladino Baseball Tournament, to win 6 games in 7 games, to advance from pool play to the knockout stage to the championship game, to play 42 innings of baseball in one week and prevail over 31 other schools in the premier annual prep sports tournament in the Tampa Bay area, teams must have great pitching depth.
Jesuit High School head coach Miguel Menendez would attest.
Allowing just 10 runs in the six wins, Menendez’s Tigers captured the Saladino championship on Friday night (March 17) with a 5-2 triumph over Alonso.
In the title game at Brandon High, it was the exceptional pitching of Jeff Hakanson ’17, who threw five scoreless innings in relief to claim the Tournament MVP award.
At various other times during the week it was Kyle Koncal ’17, or Drew Martin ’17, or Price Sartor ’17, or Jack Anderson ’18 – with Central Florida signee Hakanson in relief as needed.
They were supported by sterling defense. In the final five games, Jesuit committed just four errors, none in the title game.
And when the bats were needed, they were there, too. Jesuit routed Steinbrenner 9-0 in the quarterfinal, and then, tied 2-2 entering the 7th inning of the championship game vs. Alonso, Tiger hitters gave Hakanson all the support needed.
DH Garrett Sheppard blasted the first pitch of the inning deep over the left field wall, the first home run for Sheppard, who has signed to play in college with defending NCAA champion Coastal Carolina.
(The homepage photo, by Scott Purks courtesy of the Tampa Bay Times, is Sheppard stepping on home plate to a rousing greeting from his teammates.)
Jesuit tacked on two more insurance runs on RBIs by McGuire Weaver '18 and Alex Mocny '17, and Hakanson closed it out with his 9th strikeout of the game, igniting the celebration.
First baseman Jake Jones ’17 (9 hits, 4 RBI, 3 runs in the tournament), outfielder Duncan Hunter ’17 (Jacksonville University signee, 7 hits, 7 runs, 4 RBI in the tournament) and Sartor, who signed with Cornell, all made the All-Tournament. Sartor threw a complete-game shutout in the quarterfinal vs Steinbrenner.
The photo slideshow below from the championship game is provided by Scott Purks courtesy of the Tampa Bay Times.