Mid-game offensive surge sees North Florida Christian fall to Miami Christian in 2A title game
For the bulk of the title game against one of the top teams in Class 2A, North Florida Christian held its own against Miami Christian.
Facing an opponent with six Division I commits - three of which are headed to ACC schools - the Eagles held a 1-0 lead for over half the game as they benefitted from three walks and a hit-by-pitch. NFC's defense stood tall and sophomore Garrett Workman was steady on the mound.
However, the Victors' offensive power could be kept at bay for only so long.
A three-run fifth inning saw Miami Christian swing the game back in its favor, and eventually win the FHSAA 2A baseball state title, defeating NFC 4-1 Tuesday in Ft. Myers.
The championship was the third in the past four seasons for the Victors.
"I can't fault the effort," Eagles head coach Mike Posey said. "We were gritty and Garrett [Workman] pitched really well. We just made a few mistakes and in a championship game, those little things really add up. They were a very experienced team, but it was a great game and our kids really fought hard."
The scoring rushed in quickly in that fifth inning. Senior Wander Heredia made his rounds before finding home on a throwing error to take the lead. A fly-out next at-bat stopped the batter, but not before Jesus Mosegue was able to score to put the Victors up 3-1. A double from Jeter Polledo scored one more before NFC was finally able to end the inning.
"We had a runner at first and we ended up picking him off, but it was called a BOK," Posey said. "It was a huge turn in the game and after that, they played some small ball to put some runs together. Out kids kept fighting. We got a few runners on in the seventh and we kept fighting."
Despite the loss, NFC has done what it has done nearly all season: compete with some of the best teams in the state. This is the second straight game that North Florida Christian has pushed a team ranked higher than them to their limit as it stunned St. Johns Country Day (SJCDS) to punch its ticket to Fort Myers last week.
Its defense has been a spectacle throughout the postseason and was on full display Tuesday. Workman played a complete game and jammed Miami Christian for four and a half innings, allowing four runs on seven hits and striking out three. Even in the game prior, Butler and senior Tucker Narkinsky gave Out-Of-Door Academy (ODA) little to nothing to work with.
"We really saw our team grow right in front of our eyes," Posey said. "We've come into two big games here and that game against St. Johns, and the kids have just played their hearts out. We had a delay today and the kids handled it well. We came out a little bit flat, but we got one run-in. If we could've dropped another hit or two, it might've taken the pressure off."
The 2021-22 seasons started out with some question marks for NFC, being so young and still trying to figure out its identity. However, as it gained momentum, it proved to be a team that fought to the finish. It finishes the season with a 22-6 record, with impressive wins over Chiles, Wakulla, University Christian, SJCD, ODA, and others.
Alongside an impressive pitching core, NFC brought heat to the plate. Junior Traylon Ray batted in over 30 runs and a .375 average and sophomore Joshua Schuchts boasted a .392 average. The Eagles graduate only three seniors: TJ Martin, Tucker Narkinsky, and Aiden Butler.
It was a year that a lot of people didn't expect out of NFC, but when the Eagles saw the opportunity to win, they took advantage of it.
"It was a good year for us. No one thought we'd do what we did and get that many wins," Workman said. "We worked on ourselves and it turned out great."
Butler heads off to Polk State in Winter Haven this fall to baseball, where he will still be donning the red and black, and still play for the Eagles. Looking back at his time at NFC, he is grateful for what he has learned and hopes to see his teammates in Fort Myers next season.
"It was a fun season and I'm definitely going to miss playing with these guys," Butler said. "My time at North Florida Christian has been awesome. Coach Posey has taught me so much about the game, so I can teach younger kids the same. I'm happy with my time here and I'm hoping these guys can do it again next year."
While the loss hurts at the moment, seeing so much success from a young team bodes for a bright future ahead.
"It's a two-edged sword. You can't get complacent," Posey said. "This year we felt like we were the underdog and now getting all these guys back, we're excited. All the position players are back, Garrett is a sophomore, and was only losing three seniors.
"This was a fun year and it reminds you of why we do it."
Jack Williams covers prep sports for Tallahassee Democrat. Contact him via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @jackgwilliams.
This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: North Florida Christian falls to Miami Christian in 2A state championship game