St. Johns Country Day is heading to its first baseball championship game.
Connor Moore belted a two-run homer in the top of the fifth and the Spartans worked out of a pair of jams late to edge Mount Dora Christian 3-2 in the Class 2A state semifinals on Wednesday morning in Fort Myers.
St. Johns (24-6), winners of 13 straight games, will play for its first state championship on Thursday at 4 p.m. They’ll face either Sarasota Out-of-Door Academy or Lake Worth Trinity Christian for the title.
It wasn’t easy.
The Bulldogs had the go-ahead run at the plate in the bottom of the sixth and the winning run at the plate in the bottom of the seventh before escaping both jams by allowing a run in each inning.
Finn Howell delivered a complete game on the mound, struck out nine and didn’t allow a walk and the Spartans broke through in the decisive fifth to push through into the final.
Howell had a double with one out in the fifth to put the Spartans in front 1-0 and Moore came through after that with a homer, his 11th of the season for a 3-0 edge.
St. Johns found itself in tight spots in the final two innings, with the Bulldogs pushing a run across in the sixth and stranding runners at second and third that inning. Mount Dora Christian pushed another run across with two outs in the seventh and had the tying run on second base before Howell induced a pop out to Moore at shortstop to end it.
Moore and Jordan Taylor had two hits apiece for the Spartans.
Howell’s complete game will allow St. Johns to start ace Brad Hodges in the championship game.