8A-11 Playoff Preview: Expect The Unexpected
Site: Coral Glades High School
Monday, April 22nd
5PM – Game 1 – (5) South Plantation vs. (4) Taravella
7:30 – Game 2 – (6) Piper vs. (3) Coral Springs
Tuesday, April 23rd
5PM – Game 3 – Game 1 winner vs. (2) Coral Glades
7:30 – Game 4 – Game 2 winner vs. (1) Douglas
Wednesday, April 24th
Thursday, April 25th
7PM – Championship – Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner
Full stats for 8A-11 can be found on the 8A-11 Stats Page!
Overview – It may seem like a foregone conclusion that Douglas is the team to beat in the 8A-11 playoffs, but subscribing to that theory would be ignoring recent history in the district. Just two seasons ago, an upstart Deerfield Beach team upset not only third-seeded Coral Glades, but also second-seeded Douglas. A sixth-seeded Bucks team made it to the regionals, leaving hope that there could be a Cinderella in this year’s playoffs. Whether Piper or South Plantation can be that Cinderella remains to be seen. Here is what each team brings to the table heading into district week.
1. Douglas – The road to regionals is easy for the Eagles. They claimed the top seed in their last district game, defeating Coral Glades 10-0. They split two games with the Jaguars, with each winning on the other teams home field. Douglas advances to regionals with a win over either Taravella or South Plantation. The Eagles swept the season series from the Trojans by a combined score of 15-3. They also swept the Paladins by a combined 22-8.
The Eagles have had some big wins this season. They handed Miami powerhouse Mater Academy one of their two losses on the year, and also took care of Miami power Monsignor Pace early in the season. Their biggest accomplishment may have been overturning a recent mental block with Coral Springs. The Colts have owned the district the past couple of years, and Eagles Manager Todd Fitz-Gerald made turning that back in Douglas’ favor a priority when he took over the program.
Individually, senior Derek Fritz and sophomore Dominic DiCaprio have led the offense, each hitting around or above .500 for most of the season. DiCaprio leads the team in RBIs and doubles, while Fritz is the team’s hit leader. Luis Silverio has also had a strong season for the Eagles, leading the team in runs, and providing the speed on the base-paths with over 20 stolen bases. Overall, the team’s batting average has been near .400, and they have scored over 150 runs.
On the mound, Douglas will rely on young arms for their playoff run. Freshman Jesus Luzaro has been the ace of the staff, posting an ERA under two. Junior Derek Jacobs will take a perfect record into districts, while Austin Kramer and Max Boling have both logged double-digit innings on the year. The team ERA has remained under 2.5 all season.
To advance, Douglas will need to continue to hit the ball as they have all year, and hope their young pitchers can withstand the pressure of playoff baseball.
2. Coral Glades – The Jaguars will head into the playoffs with the all-important bye. In order to reach regional play, Coral Glades will have to defeat the winner of the Coral Springs, Piper game. The Jaguars are one of only a few teams in the county that can send two aces out to the mound.
Jacob Melton and Christian Dominguez have done the majority of the mound work for the Jags, and both have an ERA under two going into the playoffs. Combined, they have double-digit wins and over 60 strikeouts. T.J. Williams has also logged over 20 innings on the mound for Coral Glades. The team ERA is below 2.5 on the season.
Offense has not been much of a problem this season for the Jaguars, as they have piled up over 125 runs. The team has four starters hitting over .400, Melton, Nick Diaz, Alex Lara, and Thomas Santarcangelo. Diaz leads the team in stolen bases and runs, while Melton and Santarcangelo lead the team in RBIs. Overall, the team is hitting above .350.
As for possible playoff match-ups, the Jaguars split their season series with Coral Springs and Piper. Should they make it to the championship game, the Jags split with Douglas, while sweeping their season series with Taravella and South Plantation.
3. Coral Springs – This is unfamiliar territory for the Colts. The past few years, Coral Springs has been one of the top two seeds in the district. In 2013, however, the Colts graduated many of the seniors from that magical run, including Texas Rangers first round draft pick Lewis Brinson.
Early on it looked as if the Colts would pick up right where they left off, as they won their first three games. Reality soon set in, with back-to-back district losses to Douglas and Taravella. From there, the Colts were up and down, but they still had a chance to clinch the second seed when they faced Coral Glades on April 9th. They lost that game 8-1, and subsequently dropped to third in the district.
Offense has been the problem for Coral Springs in the district. Against Douglas, Coral Glades, and Taravella, the offense mustered just 17 runs in six games, Outside of those games, the offense has been much better. Tre Dingus, Justin Mixon, and Vinny Cerullo all hit over .400 during the regular season. Cerullo led the team in doubles and triples, while Dingus led the Colts in home runs and RBIs. Mixon led the team in runs and stolen bases, although no Colts player had double digit steals.
On the mound, Jordan Barrett became the Coral Springs go-to guy, with an ERA under two, and over 60 strikeouts. Dingus and Michael Montalvo will also be counted on to carry the Colts past Piper and Coral Glades, and into regional play for the fourth straight year.
4. Taravella – The Trojans came out of the gate on fire under new Manager Alan Clark. The team won their first four games and gave up only four runs in that span. After going 3-3 in their next six games, Taravella hit a major bump in the road, losing six straight. The team has righted the ship down the stretch, and could be one of the teams to watch as a dark horse to emerge out of this district.
The Trojans have dealt with their share of adversity this season, losing two assistant coaches before the season began, and several key players through the course of the year. Despite the adversity, Taravella heads toward the playoffs with a team ERA under three.
Matt Majewski has emerged as the team ace, with an ERA under three. Majewski pitches to contact, and when his fielder’s behind him do the job, the Trojans ace can be tough to beat. Justin Walker has also been a pleasant surprise on the mound, with an ERA under two in over 30 innings. Chris Verardi’s WHIP of under one, shows that Taravella has three capable arms for the playoffs.
Offensively, the Trojans have had trouble scoring runs, putting up less than 80 runs on the season. Julio Bautista and Lino Bravo have been bright spots for the offense, each hitting over .340. Bravo leads the team in RBIs. Joseph Libio does give the Trojans a weapon on the basepaths, with over 15 stolen bases. Libio is also selective when he runs, having been thrown out only once attempting to steal.
Taravella will have to string together two of their best games to make it to regionals, but they have shown early in the season that they are more than capable of achieving that feat. As for their opponents, Taravella went 2-0 against first-round match-up South Plantation, and were swept by their potential second-round opponent, Douglas.
5. South Plantation – The Paladins came into the season knowing that they were in rebuilding mode. New Manager Ken Gomez has kept South Plantation competitive throughout the season, as the team has hovered around the .500 mark. The squad has shown some improvement during the course of the year, as evidenced by their two match-ups with top-seed Douglas. The first time they met, Douglas beat South Plantation 14-3. Just a few weeks ago, however, the game was much more competitive, with the Paladins falling 8-5.
To get through will be a difficult task for a team that is 0-4 against the two teams, Taravella and Douglas, they will have to beat to advance to regional play. If the Paladins are to meet that challenge, they will rely on their offense to get hot at the right time.
The team has a batting average above .300. They have scored over 30 more runs than their first round opponent, Taravella, although that has not translated to wins over the Trojans yet this year. Sal Rodriguez, Brian Llorente, and Ryan Terrill give the Paladins three players in the lineup hitting over .400. Rodriguez leads the team in nearly every statistical category, and has a slugging percentage over .750.
Speed has been a big part of the Paladins offensive game plan, with a team total over 40. Runners have, however, been thrown out nearly 20 percent of the time they have attempted to steal.
On the mound is where South Plantation will have to find some magic in the playoffs. The team ERA is over 4.5, and that is not a good sign facing the prospects of facing two teams with ERAs under three. Ryan Terrill has been the horse on the mound, logging over 40 innings. He has struck out more than a batter an inning in his appearances.
While the task is tall, South Plantation can take solace in the fact that this is the exact spot that Deerfield Beach made their run from just two seasons ago. Stranger things have happened in this district, so don’t count the Paladins out just yet!
6. Piper – Opening up against three-time district champion Coral Springs is going to be a tough task for the Bengals. Luckily for Piper, most of the players that created that run for the Colts are now gone. The bad news? Even with those players gone, Coral Springs defeated Piper by 10 or more runs both times the teams played.
The good news is that Piper has shown flashes of competitiveness towards the top teams in the district. While the Bengals had trouble with Coral Springs, they defeated second-seeded Coral Glades in a 3-2 thriller back in March. They also played top-seeded Douglas tough in a 6-0 loss back in February.
The Bengals lost their top two offensive weapons before the season began when Chris Rodriguez and Kharlin Sued transferred to Flanagan. Despite the losses, Piper still hit over .300 this season. Jovanni Alamo has been the driving force behind the offense, hitting nearly .500. Alamo, along with Zach Crosno, led the team in runs. Chase Perry hit over .350, and led the Bengals in RBIs. Joey Romano was the team’s biggest extra-base hit threat, with five doubles and three triples.
The offense will have to put up big numbers if the Bengals are going to stand a chance to upset the Colts in the first round. The team has an ERA over seven, although Zach Crosno has struck out more than a batter an inning. Joseph Spano and Ricky Reinhard have also approached the strikeout an inning number.
If the Bengals should happen to get past the Colts in round one, a Coral Glades squad will be waiting. Piper would enter that game knowing they have defeated the Jaguars once already this season.