Celtics blank Bulldogs in regional semifinals
Trinity Catholic's Griffin tosses shutout against Bolles
Trinity Catholic junior Mekai Griffin scattered five hits to go with 12 strikeouts in a complete-game 6-0 win over The Bolles School in Friday night’s Class 3A-Region 1 semifinal.
The Bolles School (Jacksonville) finished the season with a record of 15-13.
The win was the fifth in a row for Trinity Catholic, which improved to 21-8 on the season. The Celtics will play at Providence School (Jacksonville) on Tuesday night in the regional final.
Griffin, who has verbally committed to the University of Miami, did not issue a walk in a dominating performance that featured a good fastball and a biting curveball. Griffin is on a roll after throwing a no-hitter in the district championship win over P.K. Yonge.
“Mekai was outstanding and has had a different look in his eye the last two starts,” said Trinity Catholic coach Tommy Bond III. “That’s probably the best he’s thrown his curveball all year. He didn’t have any walks and when you don’t get yourself in trouble by putting guys on base, it makes you tough to beat. We had timely hits and played good defense. We knew we were going to have our hands full because Bolles is a good team, and they threw some good arms at us.”
Trinity Catholic, which banged out eight hits, got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second inning as sophomore Preston Wright roped a one-out double to left field off Bolles right-hander Tommy Brice and raced home on a single to center field by Seve Fernandez to give the Celtics a 1-0 lead.
Bolles, the No. 7 seed, threatened in the top of the third inning with runners at first and second base and two outs, but Griffin struck out the next batter with a devastating curveball to end the inning.
Trinity Catholic, the No. 6 seed, added to its lead in the bottom of the frame as Cade Hentz ripped a leadoff double and Connor Tundis reached first base on a fielder’s choice with Hentz taking third. The two pulled off a perfectly timed double steal with Hentz scoring on the play and Tundis safe at second.
Tundis moved to third on a single by Griffin and scored on a sacrifice fly to left field by Anthony Vizzini. Wright capped the inning with an RBI single to left field to make it 4-0.
Griffin gave up a leadoff single to start the fourth inning, but the right-hander bore down to retire the next six Bolles batters in order.
Trinity Catholic kept the pressure on and plated a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth inning off Bolles reliever David Martin, as Griffin smacked an RBI double and Wright added a sacrifice fly to give the Celtics a commanding 6-0 lead.
The Bulldogs got a leadoff double in the top of the sixth inning by Keegan Stewart, but Griffin recorded a strikeout and the Celtics turned a nifty double play to end the threat.
With victory in sight in the final inning, Griffin overcame a one-out single by retiring the next two Bolles hitters to seal the regional semifinal win.
“I couldn’t find my curveball throughout the season, but today I found it,” Griffin said. “My defense had my back when Bolles did put the ball in play. We’re playing our best ball of the season and got hot at the right time.”
Trinity Catholic will travel to Jacksonville on Tuesday to take on No. 1 seed Providence School in the regional finals. The winner advances to the state Final Four. The Celtics have not been to the Final Four since winning the state championship in 2014.
“Providence is a good team, they are well coached by Tommy Boss who was at Dunnellon and is a friend of mine and we know we’re going to have our hands full,” coach Bond said. “This team has some similar characteristics to that 2014 team. They’re a scrappy bunch and are getting after it pretty well right now.”