The Jesuit baseball team captured the championship in the historic Saladino Tournament, defeating Sickles 5-2 on Thursday (March 16) in the championship game at the University of Tampa.
The undefeated Tigers (13-0) won the first four games of the tournament in the friendly confines of Hyer Family Park, earning victories over Plant City (9-3), Wharton (12-2), and Gaither (5-2) in pool play, and then Newsome (4-3) in the semifinal. The Newsome game featured a spectacular relief appearance by Wilson Andersen '26 (10 Ks) and a dramatic bottom of the 7th, when the Tigers' first 5 batters all singled, the middle three on bunts and the game-winner lashed to centerfield by Wes Mendes '23.
In the title game, against the beautiful downtown Tampa backdrop at UT, the Tigers jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the 1st inning. Then they rode quality defense and the stellar pitching of Aden Knowles '24 (4 1/3 innings) and Derek Westfall '23 (2 2/3), who allowed just one hit apiece. The win avenged a defeat to Sickles in last year's Saladino semifinal.
It is the third Saladino crown (2017, 2021) in five tries for Jesuit under 9th-year head coach Miguel Menendez. The Tigers don't play in the tournament every year since sometimes Jesuit's spring break doesn't align with Hillsborough County's spring break, which is when the tournament is played. And the 2020 event was cancelled due to COVID-19.
After a 8-0 win on Monday (March 20) over St. Louis University High, Jesuit is now ranked No. 2 in the nation by MaxPreps.com. Mendes (.500) and Josh Hines '23 (.425) lead the Tigers in batting; Mendes (1.213) and Noah Sheffield '24 (1.146) lead in OPS; and Westfall (0.55), Knowles (1.07), and Brooks Chamberlin '23 (1.24) lead in ERA.
Go to the Facebook page Jesuit High School Baseball - Tampa for photos from the Saladino championship game, and the livestream of all home games is on that Facebook page.
Go to MaxPreps.com for statistics, rankings, and much more about the Jesuit baseball team.
Go to 813Preps.com for a story and photos from Jesuit's Saladino Tournament title-game victory.