Mosley Dispatches Jefferson, Moves On To State Finals
There is something unique and special about this Mosley Dolphin team this season. Although the program has traditionally reached the state Final Four in many seasons past, there is nothing traditional about this group of players.
Tuesday morning the Dolphins stayed true to form in playing the game the same way they have done it all season. Jaden Rudd delivered a gem on the mound and the offense rode a big fifth inning. The result was a 5-1 victory over the Jefferson Dragons, in a Class 5A state semifinal at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.
“We walked into the game knowing it was going to be a tough game, facing a tough team in Jefferson. They weren’t going to give it to us,” Mosley Manager Jon Hudson said. “With Jaden on the mound, we felt really good that we were going to get a good performance from him. He’s done that for us all year. That is kind of how we play; we had the one big inning.”
Already commanding a slim 1-0 advantage, David Hudson delivered the big blow with a grand slam home run in the fifth. Trent Nelson led off with a base hit that turned the lineup over, Rudd lined a single to center and Coleman Rowan dropped a base hit to right that filled the bags for David Hudson. He then turned on 2-2 pitch and sent it soaring high and deep to carry over the left field fence.
“When I first hit it, I didn’t even know it was gone,” David said. “So when that happened it was immediate chills. Just going through that at bat, I was trying to stay up the middle and just try to tap it and get some runs in. I did not mean for that to happen, but I’m glad that it did. It is a moment that I dreamed about and it is surreal. Coming across that plate and having my teammates hammering me, it’s fun.”
Just as he has all season, Nelson’s single helped spark the offense. The junior infielder also had two hits in Mosley’s last playoff win against Ponte Vedra, and he has played a key role in keeping the offense going by getting on and turning it back over to the top.
“Hitting out of the nine-hole, when Trent gets up there leading off an inning and gets on base, we can feel it in the dugout,” Coach Hudson said. “We know what we’ve got coming behind him, so the guys feel like something big is going to happen.”
What also was big was that the Dolphins took the lead early and never trailed in the contest. Rudd came in thanks to an RBI single to center from Tyler Wave in the top of the third, after he walked to get it started. Catcher Coleman Rowan moved Rudd into scoring position, after he was hit in the head by a pitch, in which the offering plunked off of his batting helmet but did not cause an injury.
“All year we’ve simulated being down here in the Final Four, because we know our past and we’ve let a few people down,” Rowan said. “We figured this time is our time and we’re the best team down here, and we really feel like we can do it. As far as getting hit in the head there, I was willing to do whatever it takes to get on base. So when he gave me the gift, I wasn’t going to move out of the way.”
Even though he was pitching, Rudd did not give way for a courtesy-runner, and instead proved he was the right guy on the bases by scoring from second on Wave’s big hit.
“Obviously, that felt great,” Rudd said. “I like to run for myself. I think I’m a very good base runner and I like staying in there because I think it makes our team better. I don’t want to slow us down on the bases, but I am probably one of the better base runners on the team. To give my team the chance to win, I stay out there, and I really like to do it.”
Rudd had arm issues earlier in the season and did not even pitch until about midway through the year. But he has been a constant in the batting order, and Mosley’s most trusted hurler during the playoffs.
“I knew they were going to be a good team and they were going to take tough at bats,” Rudd said. “Nobody in this Final Four tournament is going to be a pushover, so I knew I was going have a tough one coming in. I just went after it one pitch at a time, one inning at a time, tried to minimize the damage and throw strikes to give my team a chance to win.”
Rudd went the distance on the mound to earn the win. He allowed one earned run on four hits and a walk, and he struck out five. He improved to 7-1 this season, with five playoff victories.
“It’s the same thing I’ve been seeing all season, it’s the same kid who is going to go out there and throw strikes. He is a junkyard dog and he’s going to go out and compete in that situation,” Rowan said of his pitcher.
The roster is full of junkyard dogs, a pack of hunger creatures whom are capable of feeding that appetite. Since they were young kids watching in the stands as their older peers and siblings also competed for Mosley at the state tournament, they have dreamed of the day when their turn would come.
“That’s why this group is special,” Coach Hudson said. “I knew since they were freshmen that if they worked hard, that this could be one of the best teams that we’ve had here ever. Through the four years that we’ve had these seniors, they have surpassed my expectations as how they work and how they prepare. When you prepare the way they have prepared, and the closeness that they have, they know that you do not do it alone.”