SULPHUR — Daniel Cabrera got the save Friday.
The John Curtis sophomore left-hander saved the game ... and the season.
Now he will trot to the mound again Saturday as Curtis goes for its first state title since 2002.
With a parade of Curtis pitchers struggling to find the strike zone in the seventh inning, Cabrera, playing in right field, knew it was his time.
“After we walked those people, I pointed to Johnny to put me in,” Cabrera said. “I wanted to finish it off and get back to the state championship.”
Cabrera delivered, working out of a bases loaded, one-out jam to give Curtis a 3-2 victory over Iowa in the Class 3A semifinals.
Cabrera struck out Thomas Lebleau on an attempted suicide squeeze and the runner leaving third was tagged out to end the game and setting off a Curtis celebration.
“Hats off to our guys,” said Curtis. “We just kind of made the plays, made the hits, made the swings and did what we had to do to win the game. It definitely wasn’t our best effort, but it doesn’t matter.”
Curtis advances to the championship game for a second straight season and will play at 6 p.m. Saturday against No. 5 Parkview Baptist. Parkview (23-12) defeated defending 3A champions Evangel Christian 5-4 in Friday’s other semifinal.
Iowa finished 22-9.
The Patriots (25-3) extended their winning streak to 16 and are in a good position to make it 17 after deciding to not start Cabrera in the semifinals.
He threw just nine pitches Friday to rescue the day.
“We will have to ice him up and have him ready to go Saturday,” Curtis said.
It didn’t seem Curtis would need Cabrera for most of the game. They got solid outings from starter Kyle Burns and Hunter Dale and controlled the game for six innings.
Then the wheels fell off in the seventh with a 3-1 lead.
Dale walked the leadoff batter. He was replaced by Jacob Bordelon, who faced one batter who reached on a catcher’s interference.
“Then Nick Wilson walked a batter. Cabrera hit the next batter with the bases loaded. But he got Dayton Sonnier to pop out before the game- winning double play.
“Daniel told me he was ready to go if you need me,” Curtis said. “To hold them to two runs is good. They have been hot. I know it wasn’t our best performance on the mound, but I have to give credit to Burns and Dale and then Daniel to shut the door.”
Burns went 3.1 innings and Dale, in his first outing on the mound all season, went 2.3 innings.
Dale, who will play football at Washington State next season, entered in the fourth with runners on first and second and no outs but escaped the jam. He was also credited with the win.
“Unbelievable,” Curtis said about Dale.
But it still almost wasn’t enough in the end as Curtis watched his pitchers struggle.
I was thinking ‘throw strikes, throw strikes,’’, Curtis said. “It’s a pressure situation, and we have to do a little bit better job and I think (Saturday) we will rise up to the occasion.
A.J. Huff’s sacrifice fly to right in the first inning gave the Patriots their first run.
The Yellow Jackets tied it in the third when Alex Guidry’s RBI single to right.
The Patriots regained the lead in the fourth, which started off with Myles Washington and Nick Wilson drawing back-to-back walks.
Iowa pitcher Hunter Roussell retired the next two batters and the Yellow Jackets should have made it out of the inning unscathed, but a throwing error on Iowa second baseman Thomas Lebleau gave Curtis a 2-1 lead.
In the fifth, Cabrera tripled and then scored on a wild pitch to extend the lead to 3-1.
Cabrera went 3-for-3 Friday, but Saturday the Patriots will be leaning on his arm.
“We have one more,” he said.