Gainesville – A total of seven area teams advanced to the FHSAA Baseball Finals at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, but only two emerged as a state champion.
Those teams (Ponte Vedra and Trenton) finished first and second, respectively, in the final baseball Prep Zone Power Poll despite the fact the Tigers received more first-place votes than the Sharks.
Ponte Vedra’s improbable run through the state playoffs included an upset of the No. 3 team in the country when they upset Tampa Jesuit, 2-1, in eight innings in the Class 5A state semifinals. The Sharks (21-11) then defeated Estero, 6-2, in nine innings to win their first state baseball title in only their fifth year of existence.
Ponte Vedra, the 5A Runners-up in 2012, also defeated #15 Nease (Ponte Vedra) and #17 Baker County (Glen St. Mary) in the postseason.
Trenton won its first-ever state baseball title too. The Tigers (27-1), who outscored their opponents 40-3 in the postseason, avenged their only loss of the season with an 11-1 win in six innings against No. 12 Chiefland.
Ponte Vedra received three first-place votes, but Trenton received the other four. However, the Sharks edged the Tigers for the top spot by just one total voting point, 136-135.
Defending 3A state champion Providence (Jacksonville) finished third. The Stallions (20-12) advanced to the 3A title game but lost to Melbourne Central Catholic, 2-1. They were district runners-up who went on the road to beat North Florida Christian (Tallahassee), previous #20 Eagle’s View and RV Father Lopez to advance to the final four.
Episcopal (Jacksonville), which defeated previous No. 3 Bolles (Jacksonville) in the 4A regional semifinals, finished fourth. The Eagles (23-7) lost on the road to eventual state champion Pensacola Catholic, which finished #1 in the USA Today Super 25, in the regional finals.
Rounding out the top five was 4A state semifinalist Trinity Catholic (Ocala). The Celtics (20-10) lost to eventual state runners-up Monsignor Pace (Miami), 5-1, in the 4A state semifinals – their third state semifinal appearance in school history.
Creekside (St. Johns) (20-10), 5A state semifinalist, is ranked sixth, followed by Fletcher (Neptune Beach) (24-5) at No. 7, Clay (Green Cove Springs) (20-7) at No. 8 and Bolles (Jacksonville) (23-6) at No. 9.
Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (22-5), which had its 12-game winning streak snapped in the first round of the 5A state playoffs, dropped nine spots from #1 to round out the top 10. The Crusaders (22-5), 5A-District 3 champions, lost to previous #10 Nease (Ponte Vedra), 7-2, in the regional quarterfinals.
Other state semifinalist participants – Chiefland (1A) and Trinity Christian (2A) – both lost in their respective classification championship games and finished 12th and 14th, respectively, in the final poll.
The Prep Zone Power Poll ranks the top 20 high school football, basketball, baseball & softball teams (regardless of FHSAA classification) across 26 counties in North Florida (Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Citrus, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Levy, Marion, Nassau, Putnam, Sumter, St. Johns, Suwannee, Taylor, Union & Volusia counties). It is voted on weekly by sportswriters and sportscasters.
PREP ZONE POWER POLL – 2013 BASEBALL FINAL POLL
(School, followed by classification, final record, first-place votes, and total voting points)
1. Ponte Vedra (5A) (21-11) (3) – 136
2. Trenton (1A) (27-1) (4) – 135
3. Providence (Jacksonville) (3A) (20-12) – 111
4. Episcopal (Jacksonville) (4A) (23-7) – 103
5. Trinity Catholic (Ocala) (4A) (20-10) – 102
6. Creekside (St. Johns) (5A) (20-10) – 98
7. Fletcher (Neptune Beach) (7A) (24-5) – 85
8. Clay (Green Cove Springs) (5A) (20-7) – 81
9. Bolles (Jacksonville) (4A) (23-6) – 72
10. Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (5A) (22-5) – 70
11. Hernando (Brooksville) (5A) (24-6) – 63
12. Chiefland (1A) (18-8) – 59
13. Forest (Ocala) (7A) (23-4) – 54
14. Trinity Christian (Deltona) (2A) (17-11) – 53
15. Nease (Ponte Vedra) (5A) (22-6) – 48
16. Williston (4A) (20-6) – 47
17. Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (5A) (20-5) – 36
18. Springstead (Spring Hill) (6A) (18-9) – 28
19. North Marion (Citra) (5A) (20-8) – 27
20. Sandalwood (Jacksonville) (8A) (19-10) – 22
Also receiving votes: Eustis (5A) (22-9) – 18, Father Lopez (Daytona Beach) (3A) (17-12) – 5, Seabreeze (Daytona Beach) (6A) (17-10) – 3, Middleburg (6A) (13-12) – 2, Suwannee (Live Oak) (5A) (17-8) – 1.