WARRIORS 8 SAINTS 0
CLEARWATER – Calvary Christian’s Nolan Hudi is a creature of habit. The senior Texas Christian signee has a pre-start routine that’s been working extremely well throughout his impressive high school career.
But there was a little glitch in the structured routine Tuesday. Calvary’s pitching coach wasn’t able to be there pregame.
Not a huge deal, but this was the first round of the Class 4A playoffs and the beginning of Calvary’s quest to reach its third straight state championship game. Turns out, Hudi had another pitching coach present – even if he wasn’t there in person.
“I opened up my phone and the first thing I saw was that it was Roy’s birthday today,” Hudi said. As he was working to figure out who was going to work with him pregame, he got a reminder that it was Roy Halladay’s birthday Tuesday. The MLB Hall of Fame pitcher with a son, Braden, who’s a senior on the Calvary roster. A man instrumental in Hudi’s development on and off the field before his tragic death in 2017.
“I was like, wow. He’s going to be my pitching coach,” Hudi said. “I haven’t had him as my pitching coach in a year and half and it’s time to have him at my last start here ever. This is my last time ever toeing the rubber at Calvary at home and what a better way to go out than with Roy having my back. I felt him. I heard him the whole night. And yeah, it’s his birthday, so it’s all for him. Happy birthday, Roy.”
Hudi went out and delivered. Eleven strikeouts and six shutout innings of three-hit ball Tuesday night, leading the Warriors to an 8-0 region semifinal win over Winter Park Trinity Prep. Braden Halladay came in and closed things out with a two-strikeout, 1-2-3 seventh.
In addition to his stellar night on the mound, Hudi went 2-for-3 at the plate with four RBI, including a bases-clearing triple in the fifth.
After playing two scoreless innings, Calvary broke it open in the third. Junior Samuel Gordon started a two-out rally with a base-hit bunt. He stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Sophomore Tommy White, the Warriors’ RBI leader, delivered a two-strike, opposite field base hit to get Calvary on the board.
"Base hit bunt," Hudi said of Gordon's effort. "Calvary baseball right there. Guys that are absolutely, 100-percent selfless and ready to do whatever it takes to win. You can be that guy that says, 'I’m going to go up there and hit a home run.' That’s not us. Every single guy is ready to sacrifice their at bat for the betterment of the team and I think we saw a lot of that tonight."
Three more base hits followed White's slap through the right side and the Warriors ended the frame up 4-0.
They never looked back.
Two more runs came in the fourth and two more in the fifth.
Three Warriors batters – Hudi, White and Pierce Chambers – ended their nights with two-hit games. Calvary entered averaging 3.3 extra-base hits a night and got three more Tuesday.
The win advances the Warriors into the region finals, scheduled to be played at home Friday night. Calvary’s opponent is yet to be determined since Berkeley Prep and Orlando The First Academy got rained out Tuesday. That game is scheduled to be played at 7 p.m., Wednesday.
TP – 000 000 0 --- 0-3-3
Cal – 004 220 x --- 8-9-0
WP – Nolan Hudi (10-1)
LP – Andrew Roberts
Winter Park Trinity Prep (16-7)
Zach Holcomb – 0-for-2, Sac Bunt – 1.0 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 3 K
Jacob Starling – 1-for-3
Calvary Christian (23-4)
Nolan Hudi – Win 6.0 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 1 BB, 11 K – 2-for-3, 3B, 4 RBI
Tommy White – 2-for-4, 2B, RBI
Pierce Chambers – 2-for-3, RBI
Samuel Gordon – 1-for-2, RBI, R, 2 SB, Sac Bunt