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Jupiter Holds Off Douglas To Return To State Final Four

The Warriors celebrate together after advancing back to the state Final four for the second straight year.
*Photo courtesy of Melissa Fishbaugh.

Earning the chance to play at the state tournament is something ball players never forget. The memories exceed far beyond just the game itself, each moment bringing a thrill never to forget. Last season 13 members of the current Jupiter roster experienced those moments together, and thanks to their dedication and commitment to each other they now all get to enjoy the experience again.

Behind a complete-game gem from junior Jake Garland and just enough offensive support, Jupiter edged the visiting Douglas Eagles 2-1 in Tuesday’s Class 9A Regional Championship. The Warriors (17-11) advance to the state tournament at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, where they will face the Columbus Explorers in a 9A state semifinal on June 1st. Columbus advanced with a 1-0 victory over Miami Beach in the other regional final.

“This is the greatest feeling in the world. There is nothing better and I love it,” Garland said. “Just all of the adrenaline and getting back on the bus for Fort Myers is just an awesome feeling.”

Hosting its second regional final under manager Andy Mook, Jupiter fed off the environment. Garland hit his spots and the defense made the plays behind him, holding the Eagles (19-7) to one earned run.

“Garland was fantastic, and Douglas had some loud outs and battled,” Mook said. “Douglas brought out their fans plenty and had plenty packed in the stands and everything, so it was definitely a full house. There was a lot of atmosphere, as usual.”

Garland struck out nine on the night, while allowing one earned run on four hits and two walks. Andrew Jenner tallied the lone run for Douglas, after he doubled to center and scored on an RBI ground out from Coby Mayo in the sixth.

Eagles shortstop John Rodriguez takes a hack at a pitch from Garland.

“I knew they had a strong lineup and one-through-nine their hitters can all get the job done easily for them and change the game with one swing,” Garland said. “So I just had to pitch my game and I knew I would be all right, and I just let me defense go to work behind me. If we play together everything will come together just fine.”

Although the Eagles were making contact, it did not generate enough offense in producing just four hits. Scoring chances were limited with so few base runners, and Garland controlled things on the mound. When facing a good team he accepted the fact that a pitcher cannot be afraid to let them try and hit the ball.

“You just have to shake that stuff off and you can’t let that get to your head,” Garland said. “They were barreling a lot of my balls up all night, but you’ve just got to shake it off and move on. It is a whole new at bat for the next guy at bat.”

While the Warriors managed just five hits, they made them count and took command with both runs early on. Peter Cowley singled to right to drive in Dakota Gaillard in the first, and Peyton Moon doubled to left and later scored on a balk for the deciding run in the second.

Reaching states is no easy accomplishment, and it is a rare thing to see 13 players that get to enjoy it together again. Along with 11 new teammates this year, Jupiter defied the odds by making it back even despite losing many key figures from last season’s group.

“We returned a lot of starters but we also lost a lot of starters from last year,” Mook noted. “We put together the same tough schedule together as normal and these guys worked their butts off at practice. It didn’t click at the beginning of the year, but at the end everything starting coming around and they’re playing their game now.”

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