By:  J. Daniel Pearson for Positively Osceola

Coach Heath Williams said he was not sure when the Longhorns last won a regional baseball game, but he thought it was at least a decade or longer.  He absolutely knows the answer now.

Harmony used several gutty performances to hold off Treasure Coast, 4-3, to win a Class 7A, Region 3 quarterfinal game on Tuesday night.  The Longhorns, 17-11, will now play at top-seeded Jupiter at 6 p.m. Friday.  

Longhorn heroes were plentiful.

Clayton Williams keyed a three-run inning in the fifth with a two-run single.  Second baseman Ashton Fayne drove in a run with a sacrifice bunt and saved two others when he threw out Ray Missett in the third when he smotherd a hard-hit ball to second with the infield in to preserve a 1-1 tie.  Ashton Magorrian entered the game in the top of the second after starter Evan Christ experienced arm tightness and would go on to allow just one run and two hits in 3.1 innings of relief. After he allowed a two-run homer in the sixth, relief pitcher Ismael Rivera would strikeout five of the last six batters he faced to preserve the win and pick up the save.

“It’s just the way this team is,” Clayton Williams said after the game.  “All of us are the same, we trust the guy on our left and we trust the guy on our right and we are all fighters.  We don’t get frustrated and we just find a way.”

Harmony Longhorns Win Regional
Harmony Longhorns

Harmony took a 1-0 lead in the second as Angel Medina scored from third on Fayne’s sacrifice bunt, but it was the only positive result as the Longhorns had numerous opportunities to get some breathing room early.  Six other times in the first four innings, the Longhorns had runners in scoring position with less than two outs but failed to add to their lead.

With runners on second and third in the first, a strikeout and pop out ended the inning.  After scoring in the second, Harmony would load the bases with two outs but Sam Castillo would fly out to the warning track.  With runners on the corners in the third, the Longhorns would attempt to steal second only to have Anthony Medina’s check swing would turn into an inning-ending double play.

Meanwhile, Treasure Coast would tie the game in the third as a walk, single and double steal was followed by Bobby Johnson’s sacrifice fly.  The next batter would single and then steal second, but with the infield playing in, Fayne sensational stop of Missett’s rocket and a strikeout by Magorrian kept it a 1-1 game.

Harmony would finally break the tie in the fifth.  Samuel Castillo opened with a double and Isaiah Santiago reached on an error.  After Santiago stole second, Clayton Williams found a hole of the middle to score two runs.  After a fielder’s choice, Anthony Medina put runners on the corners with a single and Jose Scrofani delivered and a sacrifice fly to make it 4-1.

Still, Treasure Coast fought back.  Logan Zavala drew a walk off Rivera to open the sixth and Pat Tavarez slammed a ball over the centerfield wall to cut the gap to 4-3.  Maddox Polanco would then get hit by a pitch, move to second on a walk and take third on a wild pitch.  But with the tying run on third and no outs, Rivera would bear down and strike out the next three hitters.

In the top of the seventh, Rivera retired Johnson on a ground out and struck out Jacob Sauzo and Missett to end of the game.  Christ, Magorrian and Rivera finished the game with a combined two hitter.  They allowed three walks and hit two batters but also struck out 11. 

“He’s been so valuable to us this season and I am so glad he’s only a junior,” Coach Heath Williams said of Rivera and his performance.  “We use him a lot and in a lot of different situations and he just always seems to respond to pressure situations. He just throws strikes.  Once again, I can’t say enough about how this team continues to battle.  Even when we missed some scoring opportunities early, this team never got down and kept fighting.”