TAMPA — The difference between Jesuit and Jefferson on Tuesday night came down to a few little things, a few small details.
In the end, in fact, it was a bunt by Oscar Galvez with two outs in the eighth inning that made the ultimate difference.
Galvez laid down the bunt neatly and the Jefferson runner on third base, Ian Quelle, raced home. Jesuit's pitcher picked up the rolling ball, braced, but threw wide of his first baseman.
Quelle crossed the plate safely and Jefferson led 2-1, which ultimately would be the winning score, sending the Dragons to next Tuesday's Class 6A region final. Jesuit ended its season 19-10.
"We knew we had to do the little things well tonight to make it happen," Jefferson coach Pete Scaglione said. "We thought we had to play small ball, pitch well and play good defense."
Time and again, Jefferson (19-8) did all the above.
In the second inning, for instance, Jefferson shortstop Sal Vega made two bullet throws that cut down would-be Jesuit runners at home plate. On both plays, Jefferson catcher Charlie Welch made timely tags, particularly on the second play, which Welch described as, "Bang, bang. … I nicked (the runner's) heel, but I didn't know I had it until the umpire made his call."
On the plays, Vega said: "Each time I just got the ball, turned and fired. I just reacted."
Jefferson junior pitcher Mike Dominguez watched it all and felt a serious jolt of energy.
"My defense gives me such confidence," said Dominguez, who ended up throwing seven innings, scattering seven hits, walking none and striking out seven, including two key strikeouts in the bottom of the seventh with runners on first and second. "I felt good and strong all night (throwing 93 total pitches)."
Other defensive Jefferson gems?
How about Galvez's tipped diving grab of a liner in the seventh inning, which he quickly pounced on and threw out a runner at second.
Or in the sixth inning when Dragon rightfielder Robby Martin scooped up a line drive, then gunned down the Jesuit runner sprinting to first base for an out.
"So many great plays," Dominguez said. "My defense is awesome behind me."
The Dragon victory overshadowed a strong pitching performance by Jesuit's Jack Anderson, who threw seven innings, allowing six hits and striking out eight.