Polk State's pursuit of a state championship ended with a pair of losses today in the FCSAA/NJCAA Baseball Tournament at Henley Field in Lakeland.
After an 8-4 loss to Santa Fe College (No. 1 FCSAA/No. 1 NJCAA DI), the Eagles dropped into the loser's bracket and were defeated 5-4 by Gulf Coast State College.
"We played hard," said Head Coach Al Corbeil, whose team battled injuries all season.
"I can sit back and look at where we were in the fall, and now due to injuries we have Joe Strzelecki, one of our number-one pitchers, playing right field, and against Gulf Coast today we had a catcher, Cole Warken, playing right field. That's asking a lot of them.
"When you don't have the core group of guys that we had at the start of the season, and you do what we did, I'm extremely proud of these guys."
Against Santa Fe, starting pitcher Chad Tworek held the Saints scoreless until the fifth inning, when they put five runs on the board.
The Eagles scored a run in the seventh when Cole Warken doubled, moved to third on a fielder's choice, and scored on Skylar Frey's ground out.
The Saints answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning for the 8-4 win.
Gulf Coast took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, but the Eagles tied it in the bottom of the second when Warken drew a two-out walk and raced to third on Joe Strzelecki's single to right and scored on Brandon Gali's single.
Polk State added a pair of runs the next inning. Burgess led off with a single and took third on a double by Yeison Gomez. Diewert's sacrifice fly scored Burgess and moved Gomez to third. He then came home on Biermann's sacrifice fly.
In the fourth, Strzelecki reached second on an error, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and scored on another wild pitch, giving the Eagles a 4-1 lead.
The Commodores got a run in the fifth, two in the seventh, and one in the eighth to take a 5-4 lead.
The Eagles had the potential tying run on first in the bottom of the ninth with one out but could not score.
Polk State, the 2016 Suncoast Conference champions, went 2-2 in the tournament, beating St. Johns River State on Monday and Gulf Coast on Wednesday.