Story and photos by Tamas Mondovics

The Jesuit Tigers defeated the equally talented Alonso Ravens 5-2 to win the 37th Hillsborough County School’s Tony Saladino High School Baseball Tournament hosted last month at Brandon High School.

The victory proved to be a sweet accomplishment for the Tigers, nearly three decades in the making as the last time the program won the Saladino title was in 1986, with former head coach John Crumbley, although the program reportedly had not been a regular participant in the event.

It is noteworthy that while coaching Steinbrenner, Crumbley, also won the spring tournament last year and topped off the season the 2016 Class 8A state title.

As for Alonso High with four Saladino championship titles already under its belt since 2009, the Raves (2016 runner up) led by program head coach Landy Faedo had high hopes for a better outcome.

With two runs in the first inning, the Ravens actually came out strong, and have managed to maintain their lead until the fifth. On the other hand, Jesuit sported junior varsity pitcher Cristian Troncoso in the first two inning, when coach Miguel Menendez decided it was time to get serious and to replace the young player with senior Jeffrey Hankanson who took the mound with a vengeance striking out five of the first six batters and finished the night with three more; two in the seventh including the final out to end the game while allowing only two hits.

In the seventh, Tigers’ Garrett Sheppard woke everyone up with his homer, which was followed by two more RBIs from junior McGuire Weaver and senior Alex Mocny.

As it is the case each year, the tournament has once again provided fans of all ages the opportunity, to participate in and enjoy a variety of baseball-related activities in a nostalgic, family oriented and safe atmosphere.

“It is a celebration of the sport,” said Tony Saladino, adding that the tourney will now continue as a living memorial of his wife, tournament matriarch, Bertha Saladino, whose absence never goes unnoticed by anyone. Bertha died in early 2016—surrounded by friends and family. She was 84.

For information about the Saladino baseball tournament visit tonysaladinobaseballtounament.com.