Calvary Christian Remains Perfect In Senior Night Victory
Across the state all this week Florida high school seniors have been saluted and recognized in their final regular-season home games of their high school careers. Friday night Calvary Christian Clearwater seniors Justin Bench, Jonny Bunner, Ryan Coleman, Cavan Ingram, Eric Kennedy and Matheu Nelson all enjoyed their special night by doing what the program has done best the past two seasons – winning a competitive ball game. Calvary struck for the winning run to break a tie contest in the bottom of the sixth inning, then held on for a 2-1 victory over the St. Petersburg Green Devils.
The Warriors finish the regular season 25-0, and have now won 55 straight games dating back to the start of the 2017 season. The defending 4A state champions did not miss a beat from where they left off last year, playing excellent team baseball, light’s-out defense, pitching as well as anyone and continuing to find clutch hits from any member of the batting order. Friday night was the sixth time this year Calvary won a one-run decision.
With things tied heading into the bottom of the sixth, Calvary made its move for the winning run. Kennedy got it started with an infield single, before then stealing second and advancing to third on a throwing error. A wild pitch then rewarded the aggressive base-running, allowing Kennedy to come home for the winning run.
From there it was all up to the pitching. Josh Emerson came on in relief of Jonny Bunner, who earned the victory after going two-and-a-third innings in relief of starter Cameron Barrier. Emerson surrendered a lead-off walk to Kyle Kramer, who advanced to second thanks to a sacrifice bunt from Jackson Hamblin, but the closer responded with a strikeout and a grounder back to the mound to close things out.
The Warriors grabbed the lead right away with their first swings in the bottom of the first. Christian Cairo reached on an error and then stole his team-leading 18th base of the year to get into scoring position. Justin Bench then rewarded that effort with an RBI single and a 1-0 lead.
The Green Devils (11-13) answered back to even things up in the top of the fourth, on the strength of some good base running of their own. Gabriel Tellez led off with a base hit to center, then stole second and advanced to third on a balk. Tellez then made his move and stole home to make it a 1-1 game.
Calvary Christian remains the top-ranked team in the HSBN State Power Rankings, and it now prepares to head into the playoffs looking to defend its title and repeat as state champions. The program has thrived on an unprecedented run thanks to its unity, character and leadership, as well as a unique mixture of personalities and talent that work well together.
Even in defeat, St. Petersburg can take some positive momentum into its own district playoffs. The Green Devils went toe-to-toe with the best club in the entire state, and they also finished the regular season strong in winning five of their final seven games.