Baseball: Locals take spotlight in dramatic College World Series moment — June 23

LSU and Wake Forest were locked in a pitcher’s duel in Thursday’s College World Series semifinal with the zeroes stretching across the scoreboard through more than 10 innings.  

That set the stage for an epic showdown in the bottom of the 11th of this high stakes matchup that determined a spot in the Championship Series. 

On the mound was Demon Deacon closer Camden Minacci. Behind the plate was Bennett Lee. At-bat was Tigers’ slugger Tommy White. 

Three players from the Tampa Bay area, all of whom played a pivotal role in a dramatic moment that ended with one pitch. 

White wasted no time, clobbering the first pitch he saw for a walk-off homer in LSU’s 2-0 victory. Rounding first, White (featured photo above courtesy of LSU Athletics) raised both hands in the air in triumph before being mobbed by teammates once he touched home plate. 

This was the third time all three players met in the same game in either high school or college.  

In their last encounter in 2019, White, then at Calvary Christian, had a big role in helping the Warriors beat Jesuit, where Lee and Minacci played.  

White ended up going 3-for-4 with a homer, a double and four RBIs in a 12-2 victory. 

Both the Warriors and Tigers went on to win state titles in their respective classifications that year. 

After starring at Calvary Christian, White decided to transfer to IMG Academy. He played as a freshman at North Carolina State last year before joining the Tigers. 

Minacci, a dominant pitcher, became one of college’s top closers as he helped the Demon Deacons earn the top seed in the College World Series and put them on the brink of the championship series. 

Lee joined his former high school teammate at Wake Forest this year after putting together two stellar seasons at Tulane. 

On Tuesday, Lee delivered – on offense and defense – to beat LSU in the opener of their three-game semifinal series. 

With the game tied at 2 in the 8th inning, Lee scooped up a throw from former Bloomingdale standout Brock Wilken after an impressive stop, then applied a tag at home to end a scoring threat.

In the bottom half of the inning, Lee had what turned out to be the game-winning hit in a 3-2 victory. 

The Tigers bounced back to win the second game. 

That set up Thursday’s showdown. 

As White and his teammates whooped it up following the game-ending dramatics, Minacci and Lee embraced near the mound.

Once the celebration settled down, White made sure to seek out Lee and Minacci to offer his condolences.  

“I mean, their season’s over,” White said in Thursday’s press conference about wanting to meet with Lee and Minacci after the game. “It’s a very hard time. They had high expectations coming into this, and they played great. But I’ve known Camden and Bennett Lee for quite some time now. We’re all from Tampa, I’ve played with them and against them my whole life, and (Minacci), he’s one of my close friends, so I didn’t want him to feel anything. I just wanted to make sure he was alright.”