Calvary Christian Back On Top Of 3A Mountain
It was a battle of state royalty on Saturday afternoon when North Broward Prep and Calvary Christian locked up for the 3A championship game. North Broward Prep was the two-time defending state champions, and Calvary has been to the state Final Four in four of the past six seasons.
That meant that something had to give. In the end, it was the Warriors who prevailed, 9-3.
The two teams’ both had their aces on the mound, Mateo Gray for North Broward Prep, and Landen Maroudis, a co-ace for the Warriors. The game played out as expected through the first four innings. The only scoring in those innings came when Calvary pushed across a run in the second.
At the end of the fourth, the teams started what would end up being a lengthy lightning delay. The teams tried to get back on the field after 40 minutes, but shortly after they warmed up, the lightning sensor went off again, and caused a second delay. The total delay time was about two hours, and that left both coaches with a decision to make with their starting pitchers.
Calvary Manager Greg Olsen and his staff chose to pull Maroudis, while Eagles Manager Brian Campbell brought back Mateo.
“I think he would have fought me if I took him out,” said Campbell. “But no, you have to weigh the players desire to go out there, with the responsibility to protect the player. With Mateo, we know how quickly his arm bounces back, and how he trains. So we felt comfortable bringing him back out.”
Olsen took the other approach.
“Maybe if it had been a short delay, say under 30 minutes, we would have let him go,” said Olsen. “But once it got to 45 minutes, an hour, at that point we made the decision to go another direction.”
Coming out of the delay, Calvary immediately added to their lead on an Andrew Tess RBI single up the middle.
In their half of the fifth, the Eagles battled back, much like they did in the semifinal game, when they cam from four down to win 5-4. They used four walks and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Gray to tie the game at two.
In the sixth, Maroudis made his presence felt at the plate, hitting a home run to lead off the inning, and putting the Warriors back on top 3-2. They would add three more runs, and held a 6-2 lead.
North Broward again tried to rally in the sixth, scoring one run, and putting runners on first and second with one out. but Grayson Gibson got a ground ball double play to end the threat.
From there, Gibson closed out the Eagles in the seventh, sending the Warriors to their third title since 2017.
“Today we had our best offensive effort of the year,” said Olsen. “Everybody contributed, and this really started last year. We had a great team last year, that was upset in the playoffs. But those seniors showed these guys how to lead, and how to work, and that leadership from last year, trickled down to these guys this year. So I’m happy to get this one for this year’s guys, and all the ones from last year, that were up in the stands today cheering us on.”
Maroudis closed out a great career with a 2-for-3 effort, and he will now await the MLB Draft. He is currently also committed to NC State, and while the future is bright, he took the time to enjoy this win.
“All that will come later,” said Maroudis. “But I am just happy with how we competed not only today, but all season. It is great to go out with a state title with all my teammates.”
On the other side, the eagles have a majority of their starters returning in 2024, meaning the possibility of a fourth straight state final four will be the expectation.
“Obviously we have a good core group coming back, and we hope they keep this feeling with them,” said Campbell. “Its always great to win, but only one team gets to do that every year. Losing one game today does not define the season that these guys had this year. They were tough, and we faced a lot of adversity, and I am very proud of the way they played coming up here this weekend.”