Broward High School Baseball
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Once… Twice… Three Times, McCarthy?

McCarthy ace Daniel Federman picked up his 19th career victory in his final high school start.

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Death, taxes and state titles.

Although it is incredibly difficult just to reach the state Final Four tournament, the Archbishop McCarthy baseball team has made such a habit of it that it almost seems a foregone conclusion each season. That theme held true once again this year, as the Mavericks prevailed 5-3 in a gritty battle of attrition against the Mosley Dolphins, in Thursday’s 6A state semifinal at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.

The Mavericks (28-2) advance back to the state championship game for the third straight season and are playing for their seventh state title in the last eight years. They will take on Tampa Jesuit on Saturday afternoon, after the Tigers advanced with a 7-0 win over Dunedin in Thursday’s other 6A semifinal. Despite the success the program has enjoyed over the past decade, manager Rich Bielski admits that every new year brings its own unique experience to be treasured.

“This was a very exciting game for us that we looked forward to and we prepared and worked very hard for it,” Bielski said. “This is exactly where we want to be. We put ourselves into the position that we have worked for since we got back to school on the first day.”

Thursday’s semifinal pitted McCarthy against a foe so familiar they might as well be considered rivals, in a Mosley team that it has faced nearly every year during this historic stretch of the dynasty. The two programs are highly-ranked nationally, as well as in the HSBN State Rankings. The top billing lived true to the label, as the two sides dug in like two wild boars fighting over the last piece of meat at the supper table.

The Dolphins (26-3) drew first blood with a big opening frame. Starting pitcher Michael Cullen got it going by beating out a single to second base, before giving way to courtesy-runner Jack Taylor, who stole second base to get into scoring position. Two batters later, Brett Robertson laced a double down the left field line to bring Taylor around for the first run of the day. Robertson stole third and then scored thanks to an RBI single from Peyton Millirons.

Archbishop McCarthy’s Ubaldo Lopez makes a throw to first after fielding a tough grounder up the middle.

“My hat goes off to Mosley. They battled us as tough as any team battled us all season long,” Bielski said. “You could tell they were very determined, and obviously we have met so many times before. I can see why they are ranked so highly nationally, and I don’t know if there is anywhere in the nation where two such high-ranked teams nationally are going at it. They are usually from different states.”

McCarthy answered right back with a run in the bottom of the first. Luis Tuero singled to left and then raced all the way around to score when Andrew Fernandez followed with an RBI double. Ever aware of momentum, the Mavericks knew that getting a run right back played a big difference in turning the tide of the game.

“It was huge,” Andrew Fernandez said. “I just got a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it, and drove in the run.”

McCarthy took control with the deciding runs in the bottom of the second. Michael Machin walked and advanced on a passed ball, then moved to third when Joey Thompson rolled a single up the middle. Alejandro Macario then drilled an RBI single to right field that tied the game.

Tuero dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move the go-ahead run to third, and, following a walk to Alex Toral that loaded the bases, Adan Fernandez connected on a shot to left field that plated two runners to put McCarthy ahead with a 4-2 advantage.

The Mavericks’ Alejandro Macario celebrates after his RBI single in the second inning.

Even after falling behind, the Dolphins did not back down an inch. Both sides continued to grind every at-bat, making every pitch and every play matter. Mosley put runners on base in every inning, and McCarthy did the same in all but one frame. Despite the offensive production, each side managed just one more run over the final five innings. Toral was hit by a pitch and gave way to pinch-runner Michael Milmoe, who later scored on a sac-fly RBI from Machin for McCarthy’s last run in the fourth.

Mosley tallied its last run during its final rally bid in the seventh. Ryan Yeager legged out a single on a hard grounder to third, Cullen walked and then a throwing error allowed Ryan Yeager to round third and score to keep the Dolphins’ hopes alive. But an infield ground out was followed by a pop out to the shortstop that closed out the contest to preserve McCarthy’s bid for its second three-peat in program history.

Federman labored through a tough first inning but still managed to deliver a quality start to earn the victory in his final high school action. The senior right-hander allowed two earned runs on seven hits and a walk, and struck out two, before exiting a high school mound for the final time with one out in the top of the sixth.

“It is difficult to talk about and is something I have really thought about with this entire senior class all year, and I don’t usually let that stuff get to me,” Bielski said of his ace and all the other senior veterans now reaching the end of their Maverick careers. “The way he left the mound, hugged all his brothers on the mound and told them to close it out for them, it’s tough to fight that emotion when you love and care for your players.”

Federman has been the team’s go-to guy for the past three years, and going out victorious to advance his team into the state final was the perfect ending to that illustrious career.

“I’m blessed to play for Coach Bielski and all the coaches. This program has meant so much to me,” Federman said. “I missed last year, so I wanted to come back this year and do it for the boys. They have always picked me up, they’ve been my brothers my whole life and I have known most of them since I was a little kid. Coach Bielski has believed in me; even when I was down, he had faith in me. So I was happy to do this for him, because he has been the man.”

Right-hander Mark Diaz recorded the final five outs to preserve the victory and earn the save. Diaz struck out three while allowing one unearned run on a hit and two walks.

Adan Fernandez puts Archbishop McCarthy ahead 4-2 in the second inning.

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Archbishop McCarthy manager Rich Bielski talks about taking on a nationally ranked team in Mosley.

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