The St. Johns Country Day baseball team is making up for lost time.
The Spartans had used a fast start to beat Westminster Academy 8-3 in the Class 2A state semifinals on Thursday at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers. St. Johns will face Lakeland Christian on Saturday at 11 a.m. for the championship.
St. Johns (26-4) was expected to get to this stage last season before a seismic upset in the regional finals against North Florida Christian. That loss laid the foundation for an all-business approach this year. Coach Tom Lucas said the Spartans, despite playing like one of the state’s best teams from the outset, kept an underdog mindset the entire season.
“It feels like we’re playing with house money. … I feel like the pressure valve getting released after the upset [last year]. We told them everybody here is good,” Lucas said. “Whoever plays the closest to normal, just competes, and do what you normally do, is going to win. And that’s what we did today.”
St. Johns left no doubt in this one. Seth Alford had a monster game, going 3 for 3 with three RBI. His first-inning triple pushed two runs across for a 2-1 lead and the Spartans never trailed again. Isaiah Mamea followed Alford’s triple with a perfect opposite field slice to right field that pushed in Alford.
Alford finished was a home run short of hitting for the cycle.
“The guys stayed focused, they didn’t blink,” Lucas said. “We told them it’s going to be a dogfight. When they scored [in the first inning] it almost fired us up.”
Westminster would cut the deficit to 5-3 in the fourth but Alford ripped a double down the line in the fifth and James Gilson brought in Alford with a sacrifice fly to push the game out of reach. Jacob Thomas earned the win with four innings of work and three strikeouts.