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Taylor, Offense Lead CS Christian To 3A-14 Title

3A-14 champs.

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Most coaches spend their entire careers dreaming of the day when their team would come through with two outs, and use proper approaches when the count gets to two strikes. For Coral Springs Christian Manager Matt Cleveland, that dream became a reality at just the right time on Friday afternoon.

The Crusaders had six hits with two strikes, and nine two-out hits, and that historic production led to a 12-2 victory in the 3A-14 finals over top-seeded Westminster Academy. The win gives the Crusaders their fifth straight district title.

“I told these guys early on when we started 2-4 that we had to just take one day at a time, and win one game, one inning at a time,” said Cleveland. “Today, they were very impressive with the way they hit the ball with two strikes and two outs.”

As impressive as the offense was, which had 11 hits on the afternoon and saw eight of their nine starters register a hit, it was starting pitcher Colin Taylor. The senior kept the Lions offense off-balance through his four innings of shutout ball. He finished the day with four strikeouts, while only allowing two hits in picking up the district championship win.

“Right after the first inning I felt real comfortable out there on the mound,” said Taylor. “I was hitting my spots like I wanted to, and the offense came through big for us today. It was a great team win, and sets us up nicely going into regionals next week.”

Colin Taylor threw four shutout innings for the Crusaders.

The offense used big innings in the third, fourth, and fifth to turn a scoreless game into a 12-0 lead. They scored three in the third, five in the fourth, and four more in the fifth.

Pemron Burrows had two of the biggest moments for the Crusaders, although they came in very different ways. In the third inning, Burrows helped get the scoring going by executing a sacrifice bunt. In the fourth, Burrows singled in a run, and then put the finishing touches on his day with a bases-clearing, three-run triple to right-center. On the day he finished 3-for-3, with two runs and four RBIs.

“Coach has been preaching us hitting with two strikes and he always tells us how important two-out hits are,” said Burrows. “Today we were all able to come through, and everyone up and down the lineup had the same focus and execution. It was a fun day.”

Joining Burrows in the Crusaders hit parade was Joey dePalo, who hit a solo home run in the fourth. Justin Neo, James Buckley, Chris Bec, and Touki Toussaint all had hits. Eric Hepple and Benito Santiago had two hits each, and also both drove in two runs.

Although the game featured the playoff-seasoned Crusaders, it was the Lions who came in as the top seed in the district. Westminster had split their two games with Coral Springs Christian before Friday, and the district final served as yet another lesson for Westminster.

“This is the first time many of these guys have experienced this type of big-game atmosphere,” said Lions Manager Nick James, who has turned the Lions into a title contender after years of building the program back up from scratch. “It’s a learning experience, and although we didn’t win, it is an experience that we hope will help us when we get into regional play next week.”

Penron Burrows drove in four runs for the Crusaders.

Although the lopsided score seem to indicate otherwise, neither coach put to much emphasis on the importance of this game moving forward.

“It really means nothing after we turn the page tomorrow,” said Cleveland. “These guys over there are a very good team, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them again. They will regroup, and we have to go back to work knowing that this game is over and it is time to focus our efforts on our next game.”

James echoed those sentiments.

“We have to turn the page quickly,” said James. “We will go back to work tomorrow morning at 9 AM, and we will start getting ready for Melbourne Central Catholic, a team that won the state title last year.”

Westminster will travel to face the Hustlers, while Coral Springs Christian will host Benjamin.

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