FORT MYERS — Zach Yeager pitched the game of his career in Thursday’s State Championship against Chiefland. Lafayette made every defensive play, routine and spectacular, and everything else just seemed to fall in place for the Hornets.
Lafayette played close to perfection, claiming its first baseball state title with a 2-0 win at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers.
LHS (21-6) coach Tim Hanson summed up the game simply.
“Sometimes it’s just your time,” Hanson said.
It certainly was for Lafayette.
Hanson was referring to the many key plays that went in favor of LHS. Every time the Indians (24-5) made solid contact, it was either right at a fielder or the Hornets made an outstanding defensive play.
Bryson Bracewell robbed Casey Lawson in the second inning with a sliding catch near the left field line. Shane Harris followed with an over the shoulder catch in the fourth inning. Mason Herring snatched a liner in the sixth inning—a shot that would have easily gone for a leadoff double had it gotten past him.
Yeager threw strikes, got out of early jams and had a good game plan.
“Throw strikes, let the defense work,” he said. “When defense makes great plays, the offense follows.”
The Hornets took a 1-0 lead in the second inning after a two-out RBI single from Kayne Hurst. He scored Caleb Lamb, who started the inning with a single.
Yeager made the run count. After needing 48 pitches to get through the first three innings—pitching from the stretch most of the time—the junior got two consecutive 1-2-3 innings in the fourth and the fifth.
“He’s (Yeager) a gamer,” Hanson said. “He doesn’t give up when things are going bad. He just digs harder.”
Lafayette picked up a key insurance run in the sixth inning. Herring stepped to the plate with a runner on second and two outs. After two swings and misses on high fastballs, Herring got another high fastball. He didn’t miss on the third, lining a single into center field to give LHS a 2-0 lead.
Hanson said he was happy with the way his team believed in each other.
“These kids came together,” he said. “It’s hard to coach that. That’s a quality that we’ve carried the last month. That’s what has got us through when we’re down or holding onto leads.”