McCarthy Wins ‘Field Of Dream’ Showcase On Florida Marlins Home Field
The best possible way to appreciate the memory of this experience was with a victory.
Playing at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens on Monday afternoon, the Archbishop McCarthy baseball team did just that as it scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning to down Florida Christian 11-8 in the inaugural “Field of Dreams” showcase played on the home field of the Florida Marlins.
The “Field of Dreams” showcase was initiated by Florida Marlins vice-president of sales Andy Silverman, who ran a similar program with the Texas Rangers prior to joining the Marlins organization this season. The idea is to recognize some of the area’s local high school baseball teams while presenting them the unique and rare chance to compete on the field where their heroes play.
“It’s great for these kids,” said crew chief Mario Signorello, another of the Marlin employees who helped organize Monday’s event. “We discussed the idea with [Archbishop McCarthy Assistant Coach] Alex Fernandez during our ‘Salute to Champions’ celebration, and he helped us recruit two more teams.”
Belen Jesuit was selected as the fourth team to compete in the showcase, which was originally slated for this past Saturday but was forced to be rescheduled to Monday after Saturday’s weather made the playing field unusable.
“Every high school in the country would want this,” said Mavericks coach Rich Bielski, whose team improved to 20-3 on the year. “We appreciate this opportunity from the Marlins. The kids got to feel like they were playing a game in the big leagues today. Without a doubt it’s a story these kids will be telling to their grandkids some day.”
Fernandez, a former MLB pitcher who amassed a 107-87 record over 10 seasons for the Marlins and also the Chicago White Sox, is no stranger to playing on the Sun Life field.
“I told them to have fun and enjoy this, because it is an once-in-a-lifetime moment,” said Fernandez, who acknowledged plans are already in place for each of these four teams to return next season. “We’re excited for this every season now, which means next year we’ll get to play at the new stadium too!”
Monday’s game lived up to the billing between two of the area’s accomplished programs, with three lead changes and four ties as the two teams combined for 20 total hits.
But it was McCarthy that got the hits when things mattered most.
With the game tied at four in the top of the seventh inning, junior Brandon Roberts singled to put runners on the corners with one out. During the next at-bat Roberts broke for second base and the throw went into the outfield, allowing courtesy-runner Danny Muniz to score the deciding run. Senior Jose Brizuela followed with an RBI single that brought Roberts in, and he came around to score when junior Nick Basto nailed a shot off the left field wall for an RBI single.
“This was our best team win of the whole year,” said Brizuela, who finished 2 for 5 with two stolen bases and three runs scored. “Everybody really stepped up to make plays and help us win this one.”
Nursing the three-run lead heading into the bottom of the seventh for the Patriots (17-4), it was Brizuela who returned to the mound to close out the game after taking the ball in relief during the previous inning. The senior right-hander struck out the side in order to end it and give him his first decision of the season.
“My teammates got me into the game and my arm felt good. I was confident in my fastball,” said Brizuela. “It reminded me of when I did that in the state championship last year, so I knew I could do it.”
While the game was a momentous experience for every player, it was particularly important to the Mavericks’ senior starting pitcher Alex Fernandez Jr., as his dad had played many games here himself during his career.
“Before the game I sat in the dugout where my dad used to sit too,” said Fernandez Jr. “I was honored and it felt amazing to play on the same field.”
Fernandez Jr. recorded a pair of strikeouts while throwing 32 of his 49 pitches for strikes in three innings of work on the mound. But it was his bat that made the biggest difference on Tuesday, as the senior broke open a tie game in the top of the sixth inning with a bases-loaded shot that got past the right fielder to give Fernandez Jr. a standup triple.
“I just wanted to put the ball in play,” he said. “Right when I hit it I knew that I had done my job.”
The younger Fernandez finished the day 2 for 5 with four RBI.
Early on, it was Florida Christian who came out playing like the favored team. The Patriots managed five base runners and three runs to take a 3-0 lead after two innings of play. They answered back to two scoring innings by McCarthy, plating one on an RBI triple from Lazaro Rodriguez in the fourth, and tying it again in the sixth when freshman pinch-hitter Chris Hernandez had a bases-loaded triple that plated all three.
Archbishop McCarthy cracked the scoreboard in the third when Brizuela came around to score on an RBI single from Fernandez Jr. to cut into the deficit. After back-to-back walks and a hit batsman loaded up the bases in the fourth, Roberts singled in a run and freshman Brian Gonzalez delivered a crushing drive into the leftfield gap that drove in two and gave the Mavericks their first lead, 4-3.
Six different pitchers combined to throw 175 pitches for Florida Christian, totaling six strikeouts while allowing 11 hits. Senior reliever Austin Chicoy took the loss.