Minutes after the King High baseball team fell Wednesday in the Class 6A state semifinals, 2-0 to Lynn Haven Mosley, you could see Coach Jim Macaluso was emotional.
Asked if this loss hurt more than the semifinal defeat to Miami Pace in 2010 when the coach had a young team, Macaluso said, “Yeah, yeah,” slowly shaking his head, “yeah.”
King fell victim to what keeps most coaches up at night – not capitalizing on base runners. The Lions left seven runners on base, including five in scoring position.
“It was just one of those days where it seemed whatever we tried backfired,” Macaluso said. “I think I made some really bad offensive calls and others we just didn’t execute.”
Both pitchers, King’s Brett Morales and Mosley’s Austin Bizzle, kept the offense to a minimum.
Bizzle allowed just one hit, yielding a bunt single to Donnell Taylor in the fifth inning.
Morales struck out nine, but Mosley found its way past the Florida signee in the sixth as Bowen McGuffin singled in Jordan Larry, who had doubled. The Dolphins added another in the seventh on a Brady Bell sacrifice fly.
Morales, who finished the season 11-2 with a 0.58 ERA and 126 strikeouts, had allowed just five earned runs entering the game. In the first, after an error allowed a runner, Morales combined with catcher Jose Lopez for a strikeout, throw out double play. In the third, he ended a Mosley chance with another strikeout, doing the same with runners on second and third in the fifth. But too many chances and little support mounted late for the senior.
“I knew I had to keep it at zero because the ballgame wasn’t going in our favor,” Morales said of the fifth. “We got two runners on base the following inning and things just didn’t fall for us.”
In a season where King reached milestones in regular-season wins (20) and had Morales set records in wins, strikeouts, ERA and single game strikeouts (17), Macaluso labeled the team as among the best ever at King (25-4).
“I think tomorrow morning this is the type of season where you feel a lot better about yourself,” Macaluso said. “We talked about it in districts, we talked about it in regions, we talked about it before we came here, no matter (what), it’s going to end. It doesn’t matter the sport or the level, whether it’s the Super Bowl or the World Series, you get there and it’s just kind of sad that the team that loses is so disappointed because you forget all the good you did.”
“It just ends, but that’s society, that’s sports, that’s being a competitor.”
Macaluso, who ends the season four wins shy of 550 for his career, said he’s starting to feel a touch of the universe in the game.
“I’m starting to really believe in destiny the more I coach,” Macaluso said. “Sometimes things happen and sometimes they just don’t.”