South Dade 5
Two familiar foes faced off in the championship matchup of the 2019 Challenge. It was thrilling ballgame, all the way down to the last pitch. In the end, the South Dade Buccaneers were able to hold off a Killian Cougar rally to earn the trophy.
Gabriel Morales got things going in the top of the first for the Bucs, walking to lead off the game and then moving to second on a groundball. A fielding error by the pitcher allowed Henry Alfonso to reach first, and put Morales on third. Cleanup man Daniel Lavoy did his job in the next at bat, smoking a ball to the left field wall for a double, driving in both runners.
Things remained quiet until the fourth inning when South Dade struck again. Chris Napoles led off by reaching on an error, ending up on second base. Two batters later, pitcher Anthony Artola punched a ball through the right side which brought in Napoles to make it 3-0. Killian was quick to respond though. In the bottom half of the inning, a pair of walks and a wild pitch put two men in scoring position for the Cougars. Ernesto Medina came through, shooting a 1-2 pitch to the left center gap to score Kevin Knoess and Jorge Corona.
The fifth inning saw more runs produced by both clubs. South Dade scored their fourth run thanks to a wild pitch which allowed Alfonso to cross the plate, making it 4-2. In the bottom half, the heart of the Killian lineup came to bat, and did damage. With two outs, Romeo Sanabria reached on a base hit to center. Jorge Corona followed that with a walk, his second of the game. It was Matthew Krtausch who would play the role of hero when he obliterated the first pitch he saw to the deepest part of the ballpark for a triple, tying the game at four.
Killian had a great opportunity to take the lead in the bottom of the sixth. With the bases loaded and two outs, Sanabria tried to lay down a bunt, but was thrown out at first, keeping the game tied.
Once again, Gabriel Morales was the spark plug for South Dade in the top of the seventh. With one out he walked, and then headed to second on a wild pitch. He then used his speed to swipe third base before Alfonso sent a single to right that plated Morales for the 5-4 lead.
The final frame was full of drama. Killian saw their first three hitters reach safely on single, hit by pitch, and fielder's choice. Bucs pitcher Dylan Quintana caught a huge break during the next at bat when a comebacker went straight to his glove on the mound, leading to a 1-2-3 double play. After an intentional walk reloaded the bases, Quintana induced a popout to first base to seal the win.
Quintana earned the win with 1.2 innings of scoreless relief. He was helped by Alfonso on offense, who had two hits, two runs, an RBI and two steals for the Buccaneers.
Both teams finished the week with 3-1 records.
Pines Charter 1
The Palmetto Panthers picked up their third win of the week in a low-scoring affair against Pines Charter, 2-1, on Friday afternoon.
Danny Lopez reached base in the top of the first thanks to an error. With one out, Charles Kavalir singled to right field and an error allowed Lopez to touch home. Ryan Herskowitz followed with a single of his own, putting men on the corners. Zach Wiener was next in line to help out when his grounder to third allowed Kavalir to score to make it 2-0.
That was all the excitement for a while as both teams saw solid efforts from their respective pitching staffs. Anthony Ortega went four innings for Palmetto, scattering four hits. He was replaced by Zach Tabachnikoff, who threw an inning; Cairiq Rackley, who tossed 1.2 frames; and Angel Perez, who earned the save by recording the final out of the game.
The Jaguars tried to make it a game in the sixth. Jayme Villafane led off with a single, and moved to second when Max Romero drew a walk. After a pitching change, Villafane was brought in two batters later on a Tim Snyder sac fly. Pines Charter went on to load the bases in the inning, but a groundout to short ended the inning with three left stranded. Then, in the seventh, the Jaguars got a man to second base, but the game ended when Perez induced a groundout to short once again.
Kavalir was the offensive stand out for Palmetto, recording two hits, a run and an RBI. Dean Guzman reached base safely three times, including a triple, to lead the Jaguars in the loss.
Palmetto wraps up their week 3-1, while Pines Charter ended 2-2.
The Highland Hawks will travel back to Virginia on a high note after battling back from an early deficit to take the win over Sagemont, 4-2, on Friday morning in Sanford.
The Lions jumped ahead early with two runs in the top of the first. After a walk and a balk put Keshav Babu on second, Lermit Pages drove him in with a double to center field. After an error moved Pages to third, Anthony Gutierrez recorded a double of his own that plated Pages to make it 2-0.
Highland was able to rally in the bottom of the fourth as their bats woke up. With one out, Blake Fisher doubled to deep right field. Luke Burner followed with a base hit to left that scored Fisher easily. Next up was Blake Cuddington who launched a ball off the left field wall, missing a home run by a few feet. His consolation prize was an RBI triple. Eddie Gimbel then wrapped up the scoring with a single to center that brought in Cuddington, making it 3-2 Hawks.
Fisher was also the starting pitcher for Highland, and he performed admirably. After the two runs given up in the first, fisher shut down the Lions. He ended up tossing six innings while scattering seven hits and striking out six. Cuddington closed out the game with a scoreless seventh, striking out two to earn the save.
The win put Highland at 2-2 on the week, while Sagemont heads back to Weston, FL with a 1-3 mark.
Somerset Academy 8
DeMatha Catholic 7
The Somerset Panthers ended their week on a high note as their offense exploded for 14 hits during their 8-7 win over DeMatha Catholic on Friday morning.
Somerset jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the first thanks to an RBI single from Colton Yancy, and a two-out, two RBI double from Connor James that scored Yancy and Reggie Williams. Jake Vazque extended the lead to 4-0 in the second when his single to right scored Lucas Lopez.
DeMatha answered back in the top of the fourth with a rally of their own. Jack Bulger led off in a painful way, being hit by a pitch. He made the Panthers pay by stealing second, moving to third on an infield single, and then scoring on a double steal. James Holladay then drove in Jake Maske with a single to right, but was thrown out after rounding first base too hard. A wild pitch during the next at bat allowed Chase Crosby to score, making it a 4-3 ballgame.
In the top of the fifth, the Stags were at it again. Their first five batters of the inning reached base safely courtesy of a walk followed by four straight singles. Bulger plated two with his base hit back up the middle, giving DeMatha their first lead of the game. Two batters later, Maske lifted a ball to left that was deep enough to score Khalil Brown to make the score 6-4.
The bottom of the fifth was a hit parade for Somerset. The Panthers went off for seven its in the inning, though they were all singles. They covered just about every type of hit in the book ... infield grounders, a bunt, and line drives to the outfield. By the time the inning was over, they had scored four runs to retake the lead, 8-6.
DeMatha attempted a comeback in their last at bat. With one out, Sean O'Connor reached on a base hit to center. He then moved to second on a wild pitch. After a popout, O'Connor was driven in by Jake Maske to make it a one run game. However, Danny Quinones was able to strike out the final batter and earn the save.
Somerset finished the week with a 2-2 record, while DeMatha went 0-4 on the week.