CF squeaks past Miami-Dade 4-3 in comeback win for college baseball state title

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Posted May 19, 2022 | By Ocala Gazette Staff

CF wins first FCSAA Baseball Championship since 1998. The College of Central Florida erased a 3-0 deficit to defeat Miami Dade College, 4-3, and capture the FCSAA/NJCAA South Atlantic District Championship on Sunday afternoon at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland. With the win, the Patriots (46-15) move on to the NJCAA Division I World Series in Grand Junction, Colo., for the first time since 1998. [Photo By Simone Amaduzzi/ProSports Visuals].

The College of Central Florida Patriots’ baseball team defeated defending state champion Miami-Dade College in comeback fashion 4-3 on May 15 to win the Florida College System Activities Association/National Junior College Athletic Association South Atlantic District state tournament. 

The Patriots will next travel to and compete in the NJCAA World Series in Grand Junction, Colorado, on May 28-June 4. This will be the first time the baseball team has competed in the World Series since 1998.

“I’ve been dreaming of getting back to the JUCO [junior college] baseball promise land for 24 years now,” said Head Coach Marty Smith. “It’s so hard to get out of Florida. [I am] so proud of these Pats.”

CF opened the tournament at Joker Marchant Stadium, in Lakeland, Florida, spring home of the Detroit Tigers, on May 12, defeating the No. 2 nationally ranked Chipola Indians 7-2. 

Aaron Combs, a University of Tennessee commit, pitched for 6.2 innings, holding the Indians to only two hits, one earned run and striking out nine batters. Edrick Felix led the Patriot’s offense with a double, a homerun and four RBIs. Nick Calero had two RBIs. 

In game two of the tournament, the Patriots defeated the Indian River State College Pioneers 15-5. After starting pitcher Ben Chestnutt struggled to rein in Pioneer bats, teammate Landon Ginn (9-1 record) would take over the mound, allowing only four hits, two runs and striking out seven over the next 6.1 innings. 

As Ginn was stifling Indian River’s bats, CF sluggers got hot. The Patriots scored 10 unanswered runs through three innings. Most of the damage came on a Caleb Cali home run, a Spencer Stephens two-run single and a Kevin Kilpatrick three-run homerun, his ninth of the season. 

After beating Indian River, CF was the only undefeated team remaining in the tournament. In their next game, the Patriots played Miami-Dade on Saturday, May 14, the Sharks won with a combination of 11 hits and 12 walks to pound CF 15-9, forcing a winner-take-all final game on the following Sunday. 

After his short outing against Indian State, pitcher Chestnutt started for the Pats and gave his team three tough innings, allowing three runs, six hits and striking out three batters. With CF down 3-0, relief pitcher Sam Swygert stepped in and helped keep the Sharks off balance and off the scoreboard for the rest of the game.

In the sixth inning, CF’s Kilpatrick doubled. Teammate Victor Castillo would later drive Kilpatrick home off a single, cutting Indian State’s lead to two runs. The very next batter, Felix, doubled home another run to make it 3-2. Suddenly, it was a game.

The eighth inning started well for the Patriots, with Ginn getting hit by a pitch, followed by a Cali single. Castillo then pushed a bunt into a single to load the bases with no outs. This set the stage for Tournament MVP Felix to smash a hard single to left field, driving in two runs, giving CF the 4-3 lead, which it would ultimately hold for the win.

Swygert finished the game throwing six innings, allowing only five hits, no runs and striking out seven batters.