Growing Pains Continue For Young Stranahan Team
First year Stranahan manager Marc Iannatto knew there would be some growing pains in his initial season leading the Mighty Dragons. On Wednesday he got a taste of that when he took his team north to Boyton Beach and lost to the Tigers 11-0 in five innings.
While the hurdles and bumps in the road are expected, if not unwelcome, he also hopes he got a glimpse of what the future might hold when he looked across the diamond. It was not that long ago that Boynton Beach was in the same situation as he and his kids are in now; a young and inexperienced team in the midst of a re-building project.
“I can take inspiration from the team we just played,” he said after the game. “Talking to coach (John Drouin of Boyton Beach) before the game he told us, you know, they were a very young team a couple of years ago. And he bred them and he worked them and now, obviously, the team he put on the field is a contending team,” he continued. “These young guys can do the same thing.”
While such a situation has its challenges, Iannatto remains confident and and undeterred.
“At the beginning of the season my goal, still is and still was, to be a .500 baseball team.” With the loss dropping Stranahan to 2-4 on the season, such a goal is still easily within reach.
It was a team effort that paved the way to victory for the Tigers on Wednesday though. In support of starting pitcher Kyle Tedesco, who hurled a two-hit shutout, all but two Boynton batters had a hit, with the Tigers racking up 10 total en route to their 11 runs. Pacing them at the plate were Ian Avecedo and Christian Perez, who both went 2-for-3. Catcher Victor Hughes also had a good night, going 2-for-2 with two RBIs.
Tedesco featured a fastball with some nice movement and was nearly untouchable through the first three innings. After getting Stranahan’s lead-off batter out on a pop up to first base, he proceeded to strike out seven of the next eight Dragon’s to come to the plate, including six in a row.
“I was throwing a 2-seam,” Tedesco said of his fastball. “The harder you throw it, the more it moves.”
He coupled that fastball with a good curve to help ring up a total of nine strikeouts on the night and he did not allow a hit until there was one out in the fourth inning, when Stranahan Sophomore Austin Ford dropped a bloop single into shallow center field. Tedesco’s teammates picked him up two pitches later, when Acevedo kicked of a well executed 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
“I knew the team was going to hit, so I just had to do my part,” Tedesco said of his performance. “I knew the team would have my back with the hitting and scoring some runs.”
The Tigers scored those runs early on, plating two in the first inning. After a quiet second, they got aggressive at the plate in the third and scored three more. After turning the order over, Stephen Kaczmarek reached on a throwing error. Acevedo followed that with his first of two doubles on the night, smashing a grounder down the third base line just inches beyond the reach of diving Stranahan third baseman Kenny Stanley. Brandon McCabe and Hughes followed with an RBI single and sacrifice fly.
It looked as though Derrick Lewandowski would keep things rolling along when he hit a high fly ball to shallow center field, but he was robbed of the hit when the hard charging center fielder for the Dragons, Wilfred Santiago, made a stumbling, sliding catch just inches above the turf. Perez drove McCabe across with an RBI double in the next at-bat for the third run of the inning, extending Boynton’s lead to 5-0.
Boynton Beach batted around in the fourth, scoring six runs on five hits. Luis Cepeda and Erik Dietrick each notched their first hits of the night, with Cepeda’s responsible for plating the final two runs. Hughes then his second single and second RBI of the night, while Acevedo and Perez each hit their second double.
The big inning gave the Tigers an 11-0 lead and left Stranahan just one more chance to get on the board in the top of the fifth before the mercy rule kicked in. The Mighty Dragons responded well to the challenge. Chris Ford led off by drawing the only walk of the night and Andy Vargas had his second hit of the contest. Tedesco followed by notching a couple more strike outs, and finally induced a ground ball to first base to end the game.
Coming into the season, Boynton Beach Manager John Drouin talked about wanting to return the Tigers to prominence. The win puts them at 5-2 and 1-0 in 6A-14), and one step closer to that goal. He hopes that continued success will inspire more student athletes to come and play for him and his school.
“I love it here,” Drouin said, “And if we could get these kids to stay home we could really build a program. We’ve got some really good athletes in our school district but we’re losing them to other schools.”
For now at least, other schools are losing to them and the Tiger’s are enjoying the ride.
Acevedo, for one, loves the success.
“We’re having a good season right now,” said the shortstop who went 2-for-3 on the night to improve on his .571 batting average. “We’re surprising a lot of people, so we have to try and keep it that way. When you win, that’s the best feeling you can have.”