West Palm Beach – Cardinal Newman senior pitcher Drake Flowers dominated with an 11-strike shutout as the host Crusaders beat Melbourne Central Catholic 3-0 in a Class 3A regional semifinal on Saturday night.
Cardinal Newman (20-5) advances to the Class 3A regional final and will play at First Academy on Tuesday.
Flowers, a Florida State signee, had his first shutout of the season and allowed six hits and walked two.
He stepped in late in the game to secure the win after the tying run came at home plate in the final two innings.
“I had the back-end crowd that got me through the last two runs, so that was awesome,” Flowers said. “That’s been a big part of our success, it’s everyone in the stands and everyone who’s here to support us.”
Flowers hit the side in the sixth and the runners locked in the corners. Melbourne Central Catholic (21-5-1) also had runners at first and third with one out in the seventh, but Flowers retired the final two batters to close out the game.
“Drake loves competition and he did a great job,” Cardinal Newman coach JR Edwards said. “He was able to press down and make hard throws when he needed to.”
Senior receiver Raul Feliz and senior first baseman Jack Bello both went deep with solo home runs to lift the offense.
The Crusaders opened the scoring late in the second. Nick Groover had a one-out field single. Louis Paolillo walked and Grant Hugus was hit by a pitch. Vance Sheahan came forward to the plate with the bases loaded and had a sacrificial fly left.
Feliz drilled an early left home run late in the third to extend the lead to 2-0.
Bello crushed a solo outburst to the left with two outs late in the fifth to push the lead to 3-0.
Melbourne Central Catholic had a runner at second with no outs in the second, but Flowers lined up a bunt and fired a pitch at third to catch the lead runner. Flowers then escaped the jam with runners on first and second.
Cardinal Newman beat Benjamin 11-4 in the first round. They have now won 14 of their last 15 games and reached the regional final for the first time under Edwards’ management.
“It’s extremely special and the guys have worked very hard and we have a lot of support from the school,” Edwards said. “It’s a really good feeling. We still have unfinished business at this point.
REGIONAL RESULTS SEMI-FINALS
American Heritage 4, Fort Myers 3
Park Vista 7, Palm Beach Central 1
Palm Beach Gardens 6, West Boca Raton 3
Stoneman Douglas 3, Taravella 2
Columbus 11, West 0
Dwyer 7, Saint Thomas Aquinas 3
Island Coast 5, Cardinal Gibbons 2
North Broward Prep 8, Gulliver 2
The First Academy 6, King’s Academy 0
Cardinal Newman 3, Melbourne Central Catholic 0
Christian Trinity 11, John Carroll 5
Miami Christian 5, Westminster Academy 3
FINAL REGIONAL SCHEDULE
Naples at American Heritage
Park Vista at Palm Beach Gardens
Columbus at Stoneman Douglas
Dwyer at Doral Academy
Cardinal Newman at the First Academy
North Broward Prep to Westminster Christian
Trinity Christian in Miami Christian