CAPE CORAL-BAKER 5, BARRON COLLIER 3 (13 INN.)
CCB 001 011 000 000 2—5 10 0
BC 101 000 100 000 0—3 7 3
Brady, Gutierrez (8) and Struense; Long, Ferreria (6), Kleist (12), Zino (13) and Ellison. WP — Gutierrez. LP — Kleist. 2B — Holt (CCB), Ellison (BC).
NAPLES — The Barron Collier baseball team, whose season looked so promising after winning a prestigious tournament this season, had its season end in disappointment late Thursday night just one game into the state playoffs.
The Cougars led two separate times in the Class 6A regional quarterfinals before losing 5-3 to Cape Coral-Baker in 13 innings.
“We couldn’t close the deal,” Barron Collier coach Dan Maurer said. “We showed a lot of heart. Facing a tough pitcher we knew it was going to be a tough task.
Baker (17-12) plays at Naples in Tuesday’s regional semifinal. The Golden Eagles (19-8) beat Cape Coral-Island Coast in Thursday’s quarterfinals, also in extra innings.
Baker took the lead in the 13th thanks to a handful of Barron Collier errors. Pitcher Jesse Ferreira walked the Bulldogs’ Steve Nason, the last batter he faced, to start the inning. Then the Cougars’ pitcher and catcher couldn’t decide who would field a bunt as the Baker batter reached safely.
Nason moved to third on a wild pitch, then scored the go-ahead run with no outs when Matt Zino’s pitch got away from Barron catcher Carl Ellison.
“We made some mistakes there at the end,” Maurer said, “but you don’t know what you’re going to get from kids in the ninth, 10th, 11th inning. It’s uncharted waters, but they didn’t quit.”
They played so long at Cougar Stadium that the sprinklers came on late in the night. The game, which lasted more than four hours, was delayed even longer as someone had to figure out how to stop the water spraying in front of the Baker dugout around 10:40 p.m.
Following a 7 p.m., start, the regional game didn’t end until Nate Leedy grounded out to third at 11:17 p.m. It was nearly twice the length of a normal high school baseball game, which is seven innings.
The Cougars won their third straight district championship this year, but their season came to an end earlier than their past two campaigns. Barron Collier lost in the regional semifinals in 2010 and 2011.
After winning the elite Sarasota Classic in late March, Barron Collier was 13-3 and looked to be building momentum for the postseason. However the Cougars finished the year 5-6 over their final 11 games.
Barron Collier squandered an golden opportunity to win it in the 12th inning. Leedy reached second base on an error to lead off the inning, and two intentional walks loaded the bases with one out. The Cougars went scoreless after back-to-back fly outs.
After its offense had all but dried up, the Cougars forced extra innings with a spurt in the bottom of the seventh. Barron Collier had gone without a hit since the first batter of the fourth inning but got two hits in the seventh.
Ellison doubled with two outs, and Brendan Long knocked him in with a single to force extras. Ellison finished with four hits on the night.
“We fought back in the seventh to tie it up, then kind of went cold,” Maurer said. “We had our shot in the bottom of the 12th. We just couldn’t execute. We didn’t execute very well all game.”
It was Baker’s first appearance in the regional tournament since 2007 and the Bulldogs’ first regional win since 2005.
Baker twice battled back from one-run deficits. The Bulldogs scored in the third inning to tie the game at 1-1, then evened it at 2-2 in the fifth.
The Bulldogs took the lead with a run in the sixth, which caused Barron Collier to pull starter Long. The Cougars senior gave up two earned runs on seven hits.