North Marion title bid comes up short

The North Marion (Citra) baseball team made the record books on Tuesday night.

Unfortunately, one big inning prevented the Colts from winning their first state baseball title in program history.

North Broward Prep (Coconut Creek) scored five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to rally from a 4-1 deficit and defeat North Marion, 8-4, in the FHSAA Class 4A state title game at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.

The Colts (21-9), who were playing in their first baseball state championship game in school history, had success early but managed just one hit off of reliever Riley Luft, who threw 4.2 scoreless innings with only one walk and five strikeouts.

“Their reliever did a fantastic job coming in throwing strikes,” said North Marion coach Dale Hall. “That’s baseball. Good pitching on the mound is going to be better than good hitting seven out of 10 times so tip your hat to those guys over there in the other dugout. They did their jobs. They made plays when they needed to, they made big pitches when they needed to, and we just came up short.”

Senior Wyatt Campbell, who threw a no-hitter in the state semifinals, doubled in two runs in the first inning and tripled in a run in the third to give the Colts a 3-run lead early.

“What a player,” Hall said of the Lipscomb University commit. “Wyatt has worked so hard to be the player that he is today. He’s one of those guys who isn’t complacent with his skill level. He’s got many tools to work with and he’s done everything he can to maximize his potential.”

Hunter Jones started on the mound but ran into trouble in the fifth inning.

Yoel Tejeda had a lead-off double to center field and scored on an RBI single by Gian De Castro to tie the game at 4-4. Josh Steidl, who had walked, scored on a bases-loaded walk by Luft against relief pitcher Karson Smith.

Dylan Runsdorf followed with a hit down the third base line to plate two more runs and Clancy Marsh’s ground out made it 8-4.

That would be all the runs the Eagles would need.

Jones pitched four innings plus and allowed five earned runs on eight hits with only two walks and five strikeouts.

“Hunter’s a bulldog on the mound,” Hall said. “We feel that he gave us our best opportunity to win. He gave us what we needed.”

It was the first state baseball title for North Broward Prep, which previously made the final four in 2014.

That season the Eagles lost in extra innings to Pensacola Catholic in the 4A state semifinals. Pensacola Catholic lost 3-1 in the title game to Trinity Catholic (Ocala), which won its first state title in program history.

Marty Pallman contributed to this report

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