It was a loss to Mariner that put Cape Coral on the road in the Class 5A baseball playoffs.
A win over Mariner Tuesday night put the Seahawks on the road to Tampa for a shot at a state tournament appearance.
Cape stopped the Tritons 3-0 Tuesday at Mariner in the Region 5A-4 semifinals.
Cape Coral baseball players celebrate their win over rival Mariner in Tuesday night’s regional semifinal game. More photos are available online at: cu.cape-coral-daily-breeze.com.
Next up is a trip on Tuesday to Tampa Jesuit, which defeated Tampa Robinson 4-0 in the other regional semifinal.
The road has been a good place for the Seahawks this season. Cape is 10-2 in road games, including away playoff wins over Hardee County and Mariner.
"I guess we're road warriors, so I guess we'll just have to keep going with that," Seahawks coach Mike Gorton said.
Cape (22-5) defeated Mariner (16-12) twice in the regular season before the 5-4 home loss in the District 5A-12 tournament final.
"You know the district loss hurt, but I gave them a day off and told them to be ready to come back and fight," Gorton said. "They did exactly that. (The loss) was pretty much wiped away after a day or two. That's what you want to see, that they turned the page quickly."
Extra seating was in place Tuesday night to handle the overflow crowd.
"We were talking with the guys about how there would be a lot of people here," Gorton said. "A rivalry like this you want to make sure everybody's hearts are beating on the same steady pace. They really don't show panic or anything like that."
Kyle Arjona shifted from third base to the pitcher's mound in the third inning Tuesday night and went the rest of the way to earn the win for Cape.
"We had no answer for Arjona," Tritons coach Tom Woodley said. "He came in and he threw the heck out of the ball."
Luke Spangler started for the Seahawks, but came out in the third inning. Spangler was on a pitch count after dealing with injuries earlier in the season.
"We just had to go out there and be better than them," Arjona said. "Be better mentally. We had to outwork them, hit the ball on the ground and hope they make errors. And they did."
Gorton said," Kyle did a great job. Our pitching staff has been good all year. The story between Mariner and Cape is it's going to be a tight game no matter what. We'll get guys on base, they'll get guys on base and threaten. It's just whoever makes the least amount of mistakes and executes."
The Seahawks scored all of their runs in the top of the fifth inning. Mistakes by the Tritons' defense played a key role. Matt Hale bunted his way aboard to open the inning, Cape's only hit of the rally. Bailey Wilson reached on a fielder's choice before an error brought Hale home. Another error allowed Wilson and Spangler to score.
In all the Tritons committed five errors.
"The team that makes the least amount of mistakes in these types of games is going to win," Gorton said. "Hats off to them, hats off to our guys. That's just the way that team is built, to compete until the end. That's what you want to see from high school players."
Mariner had several chances to score, but kept stranding runners in scoring position. The Tritons had the bases loaded in the second inning before a double play ended the inning. The bases were full again in the third, but a pair of Arjona strikeouts thwarted the rally.
In the sixth, Michael Laborde was left standing on third base, and two runners were in scoring position in the bottom of the seventh when the game's final out was recorded.
Luis Ferrer went the distance for the Tritons, giving up four hits (two bunts) and striking out nine. None of Cape's three runs were earned.
"Hey, hats off to them," Woodley said. "Those guys did everything they had to do. We had one bad inning. It was just, they did what they had to do. I wish them the best of luck."
Arjona said, "I think that since we're going to go play somebody we don't know (Jesuit), it'll be better competition because we're further into the playoffs, but since we have this rivalry between us (and Mariner) we're going to be ready."
Cape Coral 000 030 0 - 3 4 2
Mariner 000 000 0 - 0 4 5
WP - Arjona. L - Ferrer.