Melbourne, Fla. –
At 12:05 pm, the Melbourne High School Baseball Team plays an FHSAA baseball state semi-final at Digital Domain Park on Thursday, May 17th in Port Saint Lucie. The Bulldogs are just two wins from a FHSAA Class 6A state championship title.
Standing in their way, Pace High School. The Patriots are a powerhouse school known for their state championship wins and consistent playoff appearances. They are 5-time state champions, with their most recent championship in 2012. Pace has made the FHSAA Final Four in three straight years.
Melbourne has a very impressive 29-3 record for the school’s first appearance in a state semi-final game since 1968. Melbourne has been proving it all year on the scoreboard, as they have nine wins with double-digit runs on the scoreboard and are riding a four game winning streak.
On the other hand, Pace High School brings more than just history and pedigree. Though this is the school’s 10th final four appearance, they definitely do not live in the past. This year’s record of 24-6 is indicative of the six starters that returned from last year’s semi-final qualifying team.
However, Pace’s biggest weapon is arguably the most recruited prep baseball player in the state of Florida, senior shortstop Anderson Russell.
At 6,2 and 190 pounds, Russell is well known throughout the collegiate and professional scouting community. During his senior season campaign, Russell has earned a .371 batting average with 10 homeruns and 37 RBIs. Those numbers just pad his career stats of a whopping .459 batting average, 127 RBIs and 37 homeruns.
Projected to be a first round pick in this year’s 2012 MLB draft, Russell has signed to play his collegiate baseball with the Auburn Tigers in the Southeastern Conference.
Melbourne’s sophomore pitcher, Jake Walsh, will be the man tasked with trying to slow down the high-powered Pace bats; Pace has scored 20 points in this year’s postseason.
However, the bulldog pitching rotation is up to the task, as they haven’t allowed a run in two straight playoff games. Melbourne blanked Eau Gallie in the Region 2 semi-finals and then held Citrus scoreless in the Region 2 Finals. At 6,1, the right-handed Walsh has been on fire, not giving up a run in 10 innings.