For the first time in 27 years, Seminole High Baseball is back in the state semifinals, thanks to a come-from-behind victory.
Coach Kenne Brown was hugging a friend and posing for a selfie when a few Seminole High Baseball players sneaked up and dumped a cooler of ice-cold water on him late Wednesday afternoon.
Brown froze with surprise and then beamed a big smile. It was just the kind of feeling that he had enamored for since taking over the head coaching gig at Seminole High School this season.
For the first time in 27 years, the Seminoles are back in the state semifinals, thanks to a thrilling 4-3 come-from-behind Class 9A, Region 1 final win against host Olympia.
And it’s déjà vu for Brown, who was an assistant coach on that 1992 Seminole squad that went on to win the state title.
Seminole next will play Palm Beach Central High School (Wellington) at 10 A.M., Thursday, May 30, at CenturyLink Sports Complex’s Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, FLA.
The still TBD championship game is scheduled for 12:30 P.M., Saturday, June 1.
“I love Seminole High School,” said an elated Brown, who returned to coaching for the first time since 1999.
“Coming back here this year, our goal in mind was to bring back the pride that I felt when I was an assistant coach and Mike Powers [head coach] was here.
“I knew that was important to instill in this team, that they had something to fight for. From the very first day, we started thinking about the state championship.”
Brown has worked his magic in a hurry at Seminole, despite having not coached since a five-season stint at Oviedo High from 1995-99.
Allan produces on both sides of the ball
Kenne Brown inherited a relatively young team, with only six seniors dotting the roster.
But one of those 12th graders happens to be Matthew Allan, who is projected by CBS Sports to be the first high school pitcher taken in the upcoming MLB Draft.
Allan (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) wowed spectators with a blistering fastball and a curveball that Brown calls “the difference-maker.”
Although he struggled at times with control on Wednesday, throwing multiple wild pitches, Allan ended up striking out eight and scattering seven hits to pick up the complete-game win.
In fact, Allan came to his own rescue in the top of the seventh. With two outs and his team down 3-2, he launched a monstrous two-run home run over the left field fence to push the Seminoles ahead 4-3.
That was just the emotional lift he needed to clamp down on the mound in the bottom of the inning and win it.
“Olympia’s a really good team,” said Allan. “I tried to win the situation [at- bat]. It was all pretty surreal. But I’m glad I got a good swing on it. My team competed the whole time and I tried to do the same.”
However, Allan and the rest of Seminole High Baseball couldn’t breathe easy until Olympia was retired in the bottom of the seventh.
Allan allowed two runners to reach base before getting Olympia’s Mason Wilson to hit a short fly to center field, where Seminole’s Jalen Debose made a spectacular diving catch to end the game.
Win at all costs
Debose’s grab set off a huge celebration by ‘Nole players that ended with a dogpile in the outfield.
“I just wanted to get the win,” Debose said. “I knew if the ball dropped, my team was going to have to go to extra innings and we could’ve lost. I knew I had to make the play.”
As for Coach Brown, he instructed his players how important it is to play against the game and never the opponent. “The game is the game until the last pitch and I think we proved that.”
The nail-biting finish exemplified what kind of season it’s been for Seminole High Baseball, who have won multiple one-run games and never seem out of it until the final pitch.
“It’s been the hardest I’ve ever worked in my entire life as far as coaching, on and off the field and just doing certain things,” Brown said.
“But it’s enjoyable because of the relationships these boys have had and what we have done.”
Now, it’s on to the state semifinals, where Brown hopes to work his magic again — but this time with a different team.
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