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Mosley’s State Dream Thwarted Again By Archbishop McCarthy

Mosley’s Peyton Millirons celebrates after hitting an RBI single in the first inning.

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Although it is incredibly difficult just to reach the state Final Four tournament, the Archbishop McCarthy baseball team has made such a habit of it that it almost seems a foregone conclusion each season. That theme held true once again this year, as the Mavericks prevailed 5-3 in a gritty battle of attrition against the Mosley Dolphins, in Thursday’s 6A state semifinal at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.

The Mavericks (28-2) advance back to the state championship game for the third straight season and are playing for their seventh state title in the last eight years. Meanwhile, Mosley sees its dream of taking home state glory ended at the hands of the Mavericks once again.

“We knew coming in here that Archbishop McCarthy has an excellent program and we had to play well to win. I thought we played pretty well, but obviously it wasn’t well enough to win the game,” Mosley manager Jon Hudson said. “They got some things going with the bottom of the lineup in that one inning that got us behind the eightball. I couldn’t be more proud of how we played and how we battled and competed when we got down, but in the end things just didn’t work out for us.”

Thursday’s semifinal pitted McCarthy against a foe so familiar they might as well be considered rivals, in a Mosley team that it has faced nearly every year during this historic stretch of the dynasty. The two programs are highly-ranked nationally, as well as in the HSBN State Rankings. The top billing lived true to the label, as the two sides dug in like two wild boars fighting over the last piece of meat at the supper table.

The Dolphins (26-3) drew first blood with a big opening frame against Mavericks ace Daniel Federman. Starting pitcher Michael Cullen got it going by beating out a single to second base, before giving way to courtesy-runner Jack Taylor, who stole second base to get into scoring position. Two batters later, Brett Robertson laced a double down the left field line to bring Taylor around for the first run of the day. Robertson stole third and then scored thanks to an RBI single from Peyton Millirons.

“Hats off to them; they hit the ball hard all game,” Federman said.

Michael Cullen made the start for the Dolphins.

McCarthy answered right back with a run in the bottom of the first. Luis Tuero singled to left and then raced all the way around to score when Andrew Fernandez followed with an RBI double.

McCarthy took control with the deciding runs in the bottom of the second. Michael Machin walked and advanced on a passed ball, then moved to third when Joey Thompson rolled a single up the middle. Alejandro Macario then drilled an RBI single to right field that tied the game.

Tuero dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move the go-ahead run to third, and, following a walk to Alex Toral that loaded the bases, Adan Fernandez connected on a shot to left field that plated two runner to put McCarthy ahead with a 4-2 advantage.

Facing a deep batting order, Cullen knew it was a tough challenge he had in front of him on Thursday. The right-hander battled through that lineup twice, before giving way to Nicky Agosto as McCarthy turned the order over for the third time.

“I just wanted to throw strikes,” Cullen said. “Whatever I did, I just wanted to attack them. That’s a good lineup; they don’t chase pitches and they do everything they are supposed to. Facing a lineup like that is just tough to beat, but I gave it everything I’ve got.”

Even after falling behind, the Dolphins did not back down an inch. Both sides continued to grind every at-bat, making every pitch and every play matter. Mosley put runners on base in every inning, and McCarthy did the same in all but one frame. Despite the offensive production, each side managed just one more run over the final five innings. Toral was hit by a pitch and gave way to pinch-runner Michael Milmoe, who later scored on a sac-fly RBI from Machin for McCarthy’s last run in the fourth.

Mosley tallied its last run during its final rally bid in the seventh. Ryan Yeager legged out a single on a hard grounder to third, Cullen walked and then a throwing error allowed Ryan Yeager to round third and score to keep the Dolphins’ hopes alive. But an infield ground out was followed by a pop out to the shortstop that closed out the contest to preserve McCarthy’s bid for its second three-peat in program history.

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