TAMPA – The Jesuit Tigers are back in a familiar place once again.
With a convincing 5-0 win over visiting Robinson in Tuesday night’s 6A-Region 2 semifinal, Jesuit (24-5) is returning to the region final after failing to advance to that round in its final season of 5A ball in 2015. They’ll travel to Citra-North Marion on Tuesday.
Under second-year head coach Miguel Menendez, Jesuit is revved up and they certainly play like it.
Sophomore pitcher Jack Anderson through a one-hitter in seven innings on the mound, striking out five Robinson batters while totaling 85 pitches. Plucked from JV in late February, the Tigers needed him to step up with senior lefties Michael Sandborn, a Vanderbilt commit and Clayton Kwiatkowski, a Florida State commit out for the season.
“It starts on the mound for us. Jack [Anderson] has been tremendous for us since being called up from JV and he was tremendous again tonight,” a very energetic Menendez said. “I’m not that great of a coach. When you give up zero you definitely have a better chance of winning the game. He kept us in the game.”
Senior Hunter Tubbs started the scoring in the opening inning on a single that scored Alex Mocny. The game’s first run came on an error.
In the following inning, Anderson took down the side with two strikeouts and a groundout. Jesuit junior Jake Jones found his bat shortly thereafter. He blasted his team-leading second home run just over the left field wall to extend the lead to 2-0 in the second inning.
Menendez says the early scores helped his team put more pressure on and being aggressive with their bats.
Two innings later, the Tigers really got their offense going. After Jones and Garrett Sheppard each hit a single, Nick Ortega stepped up wth an RBI single making it 3-0. Two batters later, Mocny delivered a rip to deep left scoring two Jesuit runners.
They carried that lead the rest of the way and earned the big victory. After falling to Lakewood last season in the same round, Menendez says getting over the hump simply feels much better.
“Our goal every year is to get to the final four at the minimum. I feel like we have a team that can get to the state title. Last year we didn’t play as well as I would have liked. I feel bad for that senior class and those guys, it didn’t the way we wanted it to end.”
Some people have asked Menendez why he didn’t have Anderson on the varsity roster from the start. Either way, the kid has stepped up and is throwing hard right now. In 54 innings on the varsity squad, he’s allowed just three earned runs.
Menendez says his group has been focused dating back to fall ball. Being one of the last eight teams is a big deal regardless.
For the Tigers, Jones went 3-for-3 on the night with a HR, double and single. Ortega also finished 3-for-3 with an RBI single, double and single.
Senior Matt Steckel had the lone hit for Robinson (17-10).
As for the region final next Tuesday, Menendez had this to say:
“We will take it however it comes and be ready.”
Luckily Jesuit gets a week off before its next game giving their sophomore ace Anderson some much-needed rest.
Fun fact: The Tigers have been to the region final in five of the last six seasons which includes a 2014 state title.
Viral video: In the bottom of the third, the sprinklers went off at Jesuit. It sparked a funny reaction from the crowd and the players on the field. Have a look.
Jake Perper is the scout for Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to write below or email Jake at firstname.lastname@example.org.