For the first time in school history, the North Marion (Citra) baseball team will play for a state title.
On Monday night, senior pitcher Wyatt Campbell tossed 6.2 innings of no-hit ball before being pulled due to the FHSAA pitch count.
He also had the game-winning RBI in the Colts’ 4-1 win against Nature Coast (Brooksville) in the FHSAA Class 4A state semifinals at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.
The Lipscomb University commit faced all but one batter and finished with eight strikeouts in improving to 10-3. Karson Smith came in and got the final out to preserve the no hitter.
“Wyatt had everything working for him today,” said North Marion baseball coach Dale Hall. “Pretty special when you can throw 6 2/3 of no hit baseball in the state semi’s. He’s been that way for four weeks.”
Campbell finished with at least one strikeout in every inning but the fifth inning. After the first inning, he only allowed two runners in scoring position the rest of the way.
“He’s one of the biggest reasons we are playing for a state championship tomorrow,” Hall said. “Shame we had to pull him, but Karson Smith did a good job coming into a tight situation.”
The Sharks (24-5) scored the game’s first run on a fielder’s choice by Brian Erb. Shortstop Zeth Rodriguez led off the inning with a walk and scored on the ground out to second.
The Colts (21-8) broke through to tie it 1-1 in the third inning on a wild pitch.
Nate Fennewald led off the inning with a hit. Smith, the courtesy runner, was sent to second on a wild pitch, went to third on a balk, and scored when Justin Montenez (7-1) threw his second wild pitch of the inning.
North Marion scored what would be the winning run in the fourth inning on a pair of hits.
After the first two outs were recorded, Jacob Walton singled, stole second, and scored on a base hit to left by Campbell for a 2-1 lead they never relinquished.
Walton singled in a run in the sixth inning and UF commit Deric Fabian had a sacrifice fly to center in the seventh inning to drive in Connor Burks, who was hit by a pitch to start the inning.
North Marion will play for the Class 4A state title on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. against North Broward Prep, which rallied from a 5-0 deficit, and walked it off, 7-6, in the bottom of the ninth inning.
This will be the Colts’ first state championship game appearance in program history.
“Special moment for our program,” Hall said. “This is what you grind all year for. The opportunity to play for a state championship is such an honor and we couldn’t be more excited.”