Carter Smith waved everyone off and tracked a high pop-up from Andrew Higdon into foul territory.
When ball met glove, the celebration ensued for Canterbury.
An RBI triple in the 11th inning from Tyler Shuck scored the winning run, and the Cougar defense held off Tallahassee Maclay 2-1 in a marathon Class 3A semifinal on Friday at JetBlue Park.
“I was just trying to do my job, move guys over, and get runs,” Shuck said, who went 2-5 and drove in both Canterbury runs. “I was looking for fastballs in or fastballs out, and I got lucky with a hanging curveball and drove it the other way.”
After trading runs in the first inning, Shuck scored Carter Smith in the top of the first with a single to right, then Maclay pitcher Max Mckinley hit a bloop single to shallow center to bring home Jack Brady, the game settled into a pitcher’s duel.
McKinley pitched all 11 innings for Maclay, throwing 109 pitches. He sprayed eight hits and one walk, giving up two runs with one strikeout. Sam Keating pitched 8 1/3 for Canterbury, striking out nine while giving up one earned run on seven hits.
Keating left the game in the bottom of the ninth, having thrown 110 pitches, after hitting Matt Boynton with a pitch. Senior reliever Michael Matter came in and pitched the remaining 2 2/3, with one hit and two strikeouts, walking three.
“Everything that’s good about high school athletics is what you saw today,” Maclay coach Drew Sherrod said. “A lot of young teenagers just grew up and became men. They had to fight through adversity, both sides.”
Though his time on the mound was over, Keating was a part of the winning run, hitting a double to left center field. When Shuck hit a hard liner to nearly the exact same gap, Keating rounded third and appeared to say something toward the Maclay dugout as he headed home.
What exactly did he say?
“I told them ‘good game,’” Keating said with a sheepish grin, his teammates giving each other sideways glances.”
Each of the last two years, Canterbury saw their seasons end in the semifinals. Now, they face the winner of Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic and Fort Pierce John Carroll.
On Wednesday, Seacrest Country Day took Jacksonville Christ’s Church Academy 10 innings in the Class 2A semifinals. It appeared to have impacted Christ’s Church, as they were trounced by Lake Worth Trinity Christian 12-1 in the finals the next day.
Coach Frank Turco isn’t concerned.
“Our kids are going to be ready to go, that I promise you,” Turco said. “I’ve told these guys the only thing that can stop them is themselves, the juice will be there, there’s not going to be any kind of hangover.”
OTHER FRIDAY SCORES
(all games at JetBlue Park)
Class 4A Semifinals
Bishop Verot 3, Jacksonville Providence 1
Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian 6, Tampa Berkeley Prep 1
Class 3A Semifinals
Canterbury 2, Tallahassee Maclay 1(11 inn.)
Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic 3, Fort Pierce John Carroll 1
Class 4A Championship Game
Bishop Verot vs. Calvary Christian, 4:05 p.m.
Class 3A Championship Game
Canterbury vs. Santa Fe Catholic, 7:35 p.m.
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