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Santaluces Holds Off Coral Glades In Game Of The Week

The Chiefs were off and running out of the gate but the Jaguars fought back to the end in Tuesday’s “Franco Bowl”.

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The annual game between managers Joe and Nick Franco typically brings out the best from their clubs. The two brothers have played nearly every season for the past dozen years, and Tuesday night Santaluces helped big brother Nick maintain bragging rights with an 8-7 win over Coral Glades and younger brother, Joe. Nick Franco now holds a 9-3 record in the “Franco Bowl” and has won the past three meetings.

Although the Chiefs (12-2) got off to a hot start, this victory was far from a sure thing. Santaluces jumped ahead 5-0 in the second, only to watch as the Jaguars (4-5) rallied back to put the go-ahead runner on base in the bottom of the seventh. NIck Paschal connected for his third hit of the night and scored on an RBI groundout from Jack Beard, as Kyle Durham moved within ninety feet of tying things up for Coral Glades. But Chiefs reliever Jamal Johnson induced an infield grounder to end the game and preserve the win.

“I know my brother pretty well, and I know they’re going to battle no matter what the score was, and they are going to play hard and gritty and that’s to be expected by any team that’s coached by Joe,” Nick Franco said. “Jared Petronis pitched another outstanding game, and we were a little more cautious with his pitch count because he’s already got a lot of innings under his belt. He was pretty dominant again tonight, like he’s been all year. Give Coral Glades credit for making it a ball game. They could have easily tucked their tails in and made it a non-interesting game. But that’s not Joe’s style. Ultimately, we made pitches and we executed on defense. Heck of a job by our guys and a heck of a job by their guys.”

It was not the Jaguars’ style either. After Jared Petronis delivered a gem with five scoreless innings that earned him his fourth win of the year, Coral Glades batted around the order and tallied six runs in the bottom of the sixth to get right back in the contest.

Gustavo Lino got things started right away when he doubled to center leading off and then quickly scored on an RBI single from NIck Paschal, who was 3-for-3 with a walk. Durham and Joe Troia were both hit by pitches, and Jack Beard followed with a fielder’s choice that erased the lead runner. A throwing error brought in a run, Joseph Muscat was hit by a pitch to reload the bases and Max Brodsky drove in a run with an RBI single past second base. Cole Lea was next with a single that plated two and Gavin Werner plated another with a single to right that had Coral Glades grabbing all the momentum late.

The Jaguars stuck together despite the big deficit and nearly rallied back to steal the victory.

The Chiefs got off to strong start at the plate to grab the lead right away. The first four batters all connected for singles to right field, with Angel Diaz driving in the first run on an RBI to right that pushed home M.J. Restivo.

“Always in practice we’re always working on going to the right side and today we locked in to hit it where it’s pitched, and he was mostly pitching away so we executed that way,” Angel Diaz said. “We executed everything properly, we jumped on him quick and we hit the ball well.”

Santaluces batted around the order to break things open with four runs in the second. Eathyn Little walked, Jamal Johnson hinted at a bunt attempt and then slashed a double into right field and A.J. Orrico walked to load the bases. Diaz then delivered a liner to center field that drove in two and Petronis added to his own cause with a single past second that pushed across two more.

The Chiefs added on some valuable insurance runs late. Orrico lined a two-RBI single to center that drove in Johnson and Neiko Megrichian in the fifth, and Diaz doubled and scored on an RBI from Petronis in the sixth.

“Santaluces has a great baseball team this year and they do all the little things well to win baseball games,” Joe Franco said. “I’m proud of my kids also being able to come back down 8-0 to make it a great game. It was a fun atmosphere tonight for baseball.”

The Jaguars dropped their third in a row and they have lost five of their past six contests. The club has proven to be streaky this season, winning its first three before dropping two straight prior to the current winless streak.

Fortunately the timing is perfect for things to turn around. Coral Glades is set to return to defend last year’s tournament title in the South Broward Invitational Spring Break Tournament starting this weekend, and the team will also play in a game at Marlins Park against Mater Lakes on April 5th. Already locked in as the second seed in the district tournament, the Jaguars will look to use these final weeks to build some nice momentum up heading into that district playoff meeting with Atlantic.

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