In three previous trips to the baseball state championships, the King Lions could never break through to the championship game.
Turns out, the fourth time was the charm.
King punched it's ticket to the Class 7A state title game with a 3-1 win over Gulf Coast in the semifinals. The Lions will play Nease for the 7A championship LIVE on Spectrum Sports Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
For head coach Jim Macaluso, this season has been extra special. He coached his 1,000th game, won his 600th and now will coach in his first state championship game.
From the very beginning of the semifinal game against Gulf Coast, King looked like they wanted it more.
The Lions got off to a hot start. Top of the first, with runners at second and third, Dehreon Pressley scored on a wild pitch. Then Jamarcus Lyons sent Addison Barger across the plate with a ground out RBI for a 2-0 King lead.
The King defense showed off in the bottom of the second. Pitcher Brian Lee caught a Gulf Coast runner off first, threw to Lyons who threw to Pressley for the tag out.
Later in the inning, a lightning delay sent the players to the dugouts.
One and a half hours later, play resumed and Gulf Coast answered with a run scored in the second, but a heads up play from left fielder Ja'Quez McIntyre caught a runner trying to advance for the third out.
Top of the fourth, King loaded the bases. Zarrian Brinson brought in one run when he was hit by a pitch, but that was it. Gulf Coast prevented further damage shutting down the inning with a strikeout.
But the Lions didn't need anymore.