After surrendering four runs in the second inning, the Ida Baker Bulldogs bounced back to take a 5-4 lead in the middle innings, but the magic they had showed throughout the week was missing Friday night.
Island Coast's Sam Malone drew a bases-loaded walk to force in the tying run in the seventh inning, then did it again to force in in the game-winning run in the ninth as the Gators claimed the District 6A-13 championship with a 6-5 win.
"The good thing is we still get to play," said Bulldogs coach Ryan Jackson. "For the first time is school history a Baker baseball team is in the (regional) playoffs. Not many five-seeds make it this far. We went in as the darkhorse and we rode that darkhorse into the playoffs."
Cole Ondrejka led the Gators with three hits. Sean Gavitt and Mario Odio each added two hits.
Cody Keller led the Bulldogs with two hits.
"We had our chances, but we didn't execute tonight," added Jackson. "We left some opportunities on the bases. That four-run second inning hurt us, and all four runs scored with two outs."
Defensive play was a bit sloppy for both teams, committing a combined eight errors.
"It was the kind of game you could expect between two fierce rivals," said Jackson.
The Gators host Naples Thursday in the Region 6A-3 quarterfinals while the Bulldogs travel to Barron Collier.
"Naples should be a good matchup for us," said Gators coach Clint Montgomery. "Everyone will be good at this point."
Baker, the No. 5 seed in the five-team district, played their way into the championship tilt by knocking off Fort Myers in the opener and upset No. 1 seed Riverdale 4-0 Wednesday night in the semifinals.
Island Coast advanced with an 8-1 win over South Fort Myers in Wednesday's semifinals.
Sean Brady pitched a three-hit shutout for the Bulldogs against Riverdale, striking out 12 batters and walking just two. All the offense they needed came from Justin Pinto, who drove in the game's first run with an RBI single in the first inning. He finished 2-for-4, adding a run-scoring double in the fifth. John Angelo was 2-for-4 and Branden Gutierrez added a double.
Sam Malone pitched a three-hit gem for the Gators in their semifinal win over South Fort Myers, allowing one run and one walk while fanning five.
Kameron Gellinger (3-for-4) led the Gators (13-12) with three RBI, including a two-run triple to highlight a three-run sixth. Cole Ondrejka added two hits with a run-scoring single in the third inning and Sean Gavitt (2-for-4) drove in a run with a single in the sixth.
Ida Baker 000 320 000 - 5 7 3
I. Coast 040 000 101 - 6 9 5
W - Gellinger. L - Gutierrez.
2B - Ondrejka (IC). 3B - Gavitt (IC).
Ida Baker 110 022 0 - 4 9 0
Riverdale 000 000 0 - 0 3 1
W - Brady. L - Payne.
2B - Pinto (IB), Gutierrez (IB).
South FM 001 000 0 - 1 3 2
Island Coast 003 203 x - 8 8 1
W - Malone. L - Walker.
3B - Gellinger (IC).