One year later, a leap to 6A and the loss of several seniors hasn't slowed one of Central Florida's fastest growing baseball programs.
The Huskies captured the Class 6A-District 3 championship on Friday with an 8-5 win over the Oviedo Lions. That after a thriller on Wednesday, just to get to the postseason.
Senior third baseman Tyler Marlette had a monster night with a homer, a triple and three runs scored as Hagerty clinched its second consecutive playoff berth on Wednesday night with a 7-6 win over Lake Mary at Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium.
"It's amazing. I was over at third base toward the end of the game and I started getting jittery, shaking, just getting nervous," Marlette said. "This team has bonded real well. It's all in our heart."
Hagerty had never even made the playoffs before last season, but behind a strong collection of seniors, who were with the program from its grassroots start in 2006, the Huskies made a run. They finished as runner-up in Class 5A-District 5, losing to Lake Howell in the district final.
They went on the road in the first round and defeated Auburndale 1-0 in a nine-inning thriller, then came back to oust district champion Lake Howell, 12-5, in the regional semifinals. They made one more road trip for a three-game regional final set at Armwood, but ran into a buzzsaw and lost two games in a row to end their season.
Still the younger players on that team learned a lot from the senior class and have translated that to success as they moved up to 6A this season.
"It's the type of character of kids that I've been fortunate enough to have. Over the last couple of years, I've had some really hard workers and they've put themselves in a situation to go out and succeed," Hagerty coach Jered Goodwin said. "The biggest thing we preach is chemistry, really trying to perform for each other over yourself. Eve-rybody wants to bunt, everybody wants to hit and run. Everybody wants to do those things. When you start getting a group of guys that really care about each other, it's not only fun to coach but it gets a little easier."
It’s that chemistry, built from senior class to senior class, that Goodwin believes makes his team go. Though he doesn't have nearly as many seniors this year, he's had leaders like Marlette step up.
"This team I have a lot of youngsters. Last year I had 11 seniors. I started a lot of them. A lot of pitching left," Goodwin said. "This year we only have two seniors, so it's a very different dynamic, but the two seniors that we have, the character of them the whole year has really pushed us forward."
MARLETTE'S BIG NIGHT
Hagerty put together their seven runs in three big innings and Marlette had a hand in each one of them.
He singled and later scored on a three-run homer by Gabe Rivera in the first as Hagerty took a 3-0 lead. Lake Mary tied the game at three in the top of the third, but Hagerty responded immediately. Leading off the bottom of the third, Marlette put a charge into one that was a no doubt home run to left-center and landed on Zinn Beck Field back behind the fence.
"It was a curveball," Marlette said. "It just hung and I just let it go."
The blast gave Hagerty a 4-3 lead. The Huskies would make it 5-3 on an RBI single by Alex Greene and when Lake Mary tied the score at five in the top of the sixth, Hagerty went right back to work, taking their led back.
Marlette followed a single by Jeff Driskel with a triple to his favorite spot out in left center driving home Driskel. Marlette would go on to score his third run on a double by Cory Slater to make it 7-5.
Marlette said coming up big in the clutch his something he has to do for his team.
"The experience from last year, making it all the way up to the final eight, you get used to it after a while," Mar-lette said. "You just get up there and see ball, hit ball."
Marlette finished the game 3-3, just a double short of the cycle. He also walked, stole a base, drove in two runs and scored three times.
"He's been fairly consistent all year. The power numbers have been down for him a little bit, but we've been tweaking some things in his swing," Hagerty coach Jered Goodwin said. "But he's a gamer, that's the best part about him. He hates to lose and every time, whether he's catching, playing third base, DH'ing, or whatever it is, he con-tributes and he's one of the guys for sure we look to do big things."
THE EBB AND FLOW
The tug of war in Wednesday's game brought the game right down to the wire.
Hagerty took the big lead in the first on Rivera's homer, only to watch Lake Mary scratch it away with three runs of their own in the top of the third.
Daniel Cortes doubled to lead off the inning and Ryan Hagerman reached on a fielding error, putting runners at the corners with no outs for Chad Martin. Martin singled to bring home Cortes with the Rams first run. After Mi-guel Frias struck out, Ryan Hoefling singled to bring in Hagerman.
A throwing error by right fielder Brandon Bixler trying to cut down Hagerman allowed Martin and Hoefling to move up and Martin scored the tying run on a ground out by Neal Hunter.
Hagerty took back the lead on Marlette's homer and added to it with Greene's single. Lake Mary stranded the bases loaded in the fifth on a fantastic diving catch in right by Bixler, but the Rams clawed back to tie it at five with two runs in the sixth.
Danny O' Neill led off the sixth with a single and after a double by Cortes, scored on an RBI groundout by Hager-man. Cortes moved to third on the putout and scored on a sac fly by Martin to tie the game.
After Hagerty put two more on the board for him in the bottom of the sixth, Gabe Rivera returned to the hill for the seventh and danced around trouble to finish the game. Hoefling led off the inning with a single and was run for by Clay Schall. After Neal Hunter struck out, Brett Hill also singled, putting runners at the corners. Schall would score and Hill would move to second on a wild pitch by Rivera. But that was as close as the Rams would get as Rivera struck out the final two batters to finish it.
"It's awesome getting to play coach Tuttle. He's the one who got me all started," Goodwin said. "I have a ton of respect for him. He's like a dad to me. Somehow he gets to the playoffs and he gets his teams fired up and ready to go. I always tell my kids after games how it's a great high school baseball game and a lot of times it comes out in a loss. So we were really luck to get this one, especially with how they hit the ball all night."
Goodwin gave credit to the entire Seminole Athletic Conference for a great season and tournament.
"Every time you go out in the regular season, postseason, it's just really good baseball players," he said. "It's all kids that are probably going to end up at some school or another at the next level. You're getting a great brand of baseball and on every given day, especially in this conference, any team can come in and beat you."
Hagerty kept their SAC momentum going on Friday, defeating Oviedo 8-5 in another classic at Sanford Memorial.
The Huskies jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the third and appeared to be cruising behind starter Cory Slater through the first four innings.
But Slater ran into a charged up Oviedo offense in the fifth and the Lions put up a five-spot, highlighted by a bases clearing double by AJ Cole, to take a 5-1 lead.
No matter, the Huskies were up to the challenge. Just as they did on Wednesday, the Huskies responded immediately when their lead was challenged. In the bottom half of the fifth, Hagerty sent nine men to the plate and, capped by a grand slam from Wednesday's pitcher Chris Elander, the Huskies put up a 5 of their own to take a 6-5 lead.
They tacked on two more in the sixth to cruise to an 8-5 win. The victory marks the first district title in school history and gives Hagerty it's first home playoff game this Tuesday. They'll host 6A-4 runner-up Timber Creek at 7 p.m.