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Hail To The Chiefs: Gibbons Wins First Title In 37 Years

Cardinal Gibbons has one of the most storied baseball programs in the history of Broward County. The Chiefs have been the standard of how to run a program for nearly a half century.

Despite the decades of success in producing college and pro players, the school had only one state title in history, and that came back in 1987.

Wednesday afternoon, Manager Jason Hamilton and his group of perfectly-executing, pulling-together, fly-under-the-radar players, changed all of that.

Gibbons came out aggressive, and showed from the first pitch that this would be the year they were no longer denied. The result was a 4-1 win over South Walton, claiming the 4A state title.

When the final out was recorded, it sent the Gibbons players, coaches, and fans into a frenzy, setting off a celebration 37 years in the making.

Afterwards, an emotional Hamilton tried to put into words what the state title meant to him.

“My dad, he was a baseball coach. That’s what he did,” said Hamilton. “And all I ever wanted to do was follow in his footsteps and make him proud. Cardinal Gibbons is all I know, it’s my family. I met my wife there, I was married in the chapel there, my kids have all grew up there. It is a tremendous community of people, and I am just so honored that we get to bring this title back home for this school.”

The 2024 Gibbons team was expected to be an above average club, and the team learned early on in the season that they could be special.

The Chiefs began the year in the HSBN First Pitch Elite Invitational, and in game three of that tourney, after going 0-1-1 in the first two games, the Chiefs rallied from a 4-0 deficit, to defeat American Heritage-Delray 8-4. Hamilton could be heard in the dugout telling his players during the comeback, “If you guys come back and win this game, this could be a special season.”

“We knew we were a close bunch, and we knew we could be a good team, but that game gave us the confidence that we could be great,” said catcher, Eddie Marshall. “Since that game, we have gone into every game knowing we can win, and we put the work in to get better everyday. It’s a special feeling today, because we are the state champions, and nobody can ever take that away from us.”

Gibbons received a strong pitching performance in the semifinals from senior Mike Kass, and on Wednesday, they turned to Brenden Trujillo. The junior had a 4-2 record on the year, with a 1.23 ERA. On Wednesday, he was lights out, going the distance for Gibbons, allowing only two hits, while striking out seven.

“If you would have told me that Brenden would have pitched a complete game today, I would have said that wasn’t even in the game plan. He was terrible in the bullpen. Then he went out and flipped the switch when the game starts. We were going inning by inning with him, and he just kept getting stronger as the game went on. It all starts on the mound, and he was phenomenal today.”

For Trujillo, it was all about one pitch at a time.

“My pregame bullpen I was all over the place,” said Trujillo. “But once the game started, I was locked in. Getting the four run lead early allowed me to relax, and I just tried to stay ahead and mix my pitches up.”

The win by Gibbons, gave Broward their third state title this season out of the seven classes. Douglas won the 7A title last weekend, and North Broward Prep won the 3A title earlier in the day Wednesday. It was a dominating display from Broward, and one that Douglas Manager Todd Fitz-Gerald took note of.

“Nothing better than South Florida baseball anywhere in the country,” said Fitz-Gerald after the Gibbons and North Broward Prep wins on Wednesday.

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