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Williston rides arm and bat of Langworthy to another 1A state title

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Williston_baseballBy Marty Pallman

FORT MYERS — An old adage in baseball is if you shut the other team out, you’re going to win a lot of games.

Ask the Williston Red Devils.

They seem to be pretty good at making the other team put up zeroes, and winning state baseball titles.

Williston clinched their second consecutive 1A state title Thursday night with a 3-0 blanking of Blountstown at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers.

Williston blanked Hamilton County 1-0 in the 1A state semifinals on Wednesday night, marking the second year in a row Williston has shutout their state semifinal and championship opponents. The Red Devils are the first team in FHSAA Baseball Finals history to pitch shutouts in both the state semifinals and championship game two years in a row.

Last year Williston blanked Paxton and Chipley by identical 4-0 scores to win the school’s first state baseball title since 1923.

And once again it was junior Austin Langworthy, a University of Florida commit, who set the tone for Williston on the mound and at the plate. Langworthy pitched a two hitter, striking out seven, and also scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the 4th as Williston broke through with two runs against Blountstown starter Derek Eberly. The Red Devils added a run in the 5th and that was more than enough for Langworthy on the mound.

“I just wanted to go out there and be a bulldog tonight,” Langworthy said. “It doesn’t get any better than this.”Langworthy

Langworthy threw only 76 pitches, 55 for strikes. He faced only one jam, when Blountstown got runners on first and second with one out in the third, but he quickly got a strikeout and a ground out to end the inning. He credits his defense behind him as well, as Williston made only one error Thursday night.

“Everything was working well tonight, and the defense was playing great behind me,” Langworthy said. “We were better defensively this year than last year.”

Langworthy started the winning rally for Williston in the fourth inning with a walk against Eberly. With one out, Cameron Coffey reached on an infield single and Langworthy came all the way around to score from second after a throwing error by Blountstown second baseman Bryson Horne. Senior catcher Haydn Cano followed with a RBI double down the right field line to plate Coffey and give the Red Devils a 2-0 lead.

Williston added an insurance run in the fifth as Coffey drove in Ryan Battle with his second hit of the night.

That was more than enough offense for Langworthy, who ended his season on the mound 11-1 with an ERA below 0.40. This coming off his sophomore season in 2014, when he ended up with a 0.00 ERA and finished off that season with a shutout win over Paxton in last year’s 1A state semifinal game at JetBlue Park.

“We know that if he (Langworthy) throws all of his pitches we’re going to have a chance,” Williston head coach Scott Hall said. “This was an amazing job by these young men.”

Hall was much happier with his offense than he was on Wednesday night, when the Red Devils only managed 4 hits in the win over Hamilton County. Williston managed seven hits against Blountstown, but did leave 7 runners on base. Hall figured three runs might be enough for his team to get the win.

“Our philosophy is if we don’t walk anyone or make any errors we are going to win,” Hall said.

Williston baseball champsWilliston finished the season 28-2, winning their last 20 games in a row. The Red Devils’ only losses were 3-2 in 8 innings to defending 3A state champion Tallahassee North Florida Christian and 5-4 in 8 innings to 4A Santa Fe. Williston is also 31-0 against 1A schools since dropping down from class 4A before the 2014 baseball season.

The Red Devils will lose Coffey, Cano, and starting pitcher/third baseman Tyler Moore to graduation. But Langworthy, along with five other starters, return in 2016.

Is a three-peat in the cards for Williston?

“It’s the same feeling winning this year as last,” Langworthy added. “As far as three in a row, that’s in God’s hands. Lord willing, we will be back next year.”

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