Tornadoes fall in state semifinal

Posted on 15 June 2017 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

Pompano Beach baseball coach Joe Giummule said pitching and defense was his team’s strong suit as they advanced to the Class 5A state semifinals for the first time in school history.

Golden Tornadoes’ junior pitcher Trevor Kniskern took the mound against defending state champion Jacksonville Bolles and allowed the first two batters to score before settling down and pitched a gem.

Unfortunately for Kniskern and his teammates, Bolles went on to secure a 2-1 victory over Pompano Beach and then dispatched Bishop Moore, 7-2 in the title game the following day at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers to capture their second straight state championship. It was also Kniskern’s first setback in 12 decisions.

They gave us a good right jab in the first inning,” Giummule said. “We weathered the storm, and I guess we just ran out of gas.”

Kniskern gave up all three of his hits to the first five batters he faced – good for two Bolles runs – but retired 14 consecutive batters from the end of the first to the sixth inning.

Bolles’ Max Ferguson and Austin Knight, both Tennessee commits, reached on a single and double, respectively. Ferguson scored on an RBI groundout by Brendon O’Neil, and a ground rule double by University of Virginia commit Hunter Barco double drove in Knight.

I felt a little awkward [in the first inning],” said Kniskern, a Pepperdine commit. “Their whole lineup is pretty decent. I just had to work through the count, start off strong – changeup, fastball – work ahead. That first inning was a little bumpy, and after that I was settling in.”

The Tornadoes (24-4) got a run back in the second when senior left fielder Austin Carney doubled down the left field line to score junior shortstop Chase Costello.

Giummule said his team practiced coming from behind and winning a state championship since the first day of practice, so when the Tornadoes came up in the bottom of the seventh, he was confident.

The Tornadoes threatened in the bottom of the seventh as pinch hitter Alex Skirvin walked and senior catcher Jeremy Davis singled down the left field line and advanced to second on the throw to third base putting the potential tying and winning runs in scoring position.

Pompano junior center fielder Mike Schuler, who earlier in the game made a diving catch in center field to keep the game close, hit a slow chopper up the middle that Ferguson handled and threw to first to get him by a step and end the game.

The second baseman made a helluva play and he was out by half a step,” Giummule said. “Sometimes baseball isn’t fair. We deserved to win the game. We made tremendous play after tremendous play, as did they. We were just on the short end of the stick today.”

The Tornadoes reached states for the first time by knocking off powerhouse Miami Pace 9-0 in a regional final before other regional wins over Cardinal Gibbons and LaBelle. Pompano Beach is only three years removed from a stretch of four consecutive losing seasons.

Giummule believes his team can reach the state championship game next year.

If things go as they have in the past, we should be right back in this spot next year,” he said. “From that starting line-up, we lose two starters, our catcher and our left fielder and we return our juniors and a lot of our pitching staff. You got to have some breaks and you got to stay healthy and there is no doubt in my mind that we will be back in this position. We just have to stay healthy.”

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