McArthur Downs South Broward For First Win Of Season
McArthur came into Wednesday’s game at Len Koch Field ready to dig, fight and claw any way it needed in order to finally get its first victory of the season. Facing a red-hot South Broward squad that was looking for its third win in a row, the Mustangs knew the game was not just going to be handed to them. Thanks to contributions up and down the roster, McArthur prevailed with an action-packed, 19-9 victory over the host Bulldogs.
While it is not the first time McArthur Manager Oddibe McDowell has enjoyed victory in a Mustangs uniform, it is his first career coaching win at the school. McDowell took over the program this season, returning to his alma mater where his playing career began. The Mustangs skipper enjoyed a great playing career that included many years in the Major Leagues, followed by a nice coaching stint at Everglades prior to this season.
McDowell admitted that it was somewhat bittersweet to finally get his first coaching win at McArthur (1-6). He would have liked to have gotten it earlier this season against Everglades, or, like any coach, in the first game of the season, as well as every game since.
“We’ve been waiting for it, and tonight the kids came out and played hard. It’s what we want them to do,” McDowell said.
The winning result came thanks to a great team effort. Every guy in the Mustangs lineup reached base, and they racked up 15 hits in all. McArthur scored in every inning, including a four-spot in the second that gave the club the lead for good. The positive results began with great at bats, and the offense got rolling in the second starting with two consecutive bunts from Anthony Cruz and Michael Gamble.
“We talked to them about having a good approach, and what are they thinking about before they go up to the plate,” McDowell said. “So we did a little bit of that yesterday in practice trying to keep working with them so they can go out and have an idea of what they want to do. It seems like tonight it worked out pretty good. The kids went up there with a good approach tonight.”
No one exemplified the will to win greater than Mustangs left fielder Aaron Ward. The sophomore had a great day at the plate, reaching base six times and scoring each time. Ward was 3-for-4, twice hit by pitches while also reaching once on an error, and he had three stolen bases and a double. His hustle and effort did not shine merely on the base paths, as the left fielder also dove all out attempting to snare a fly ball late in the game after things were well in hand.
“It ain’t over til the fat lady sings; and no one had stood up and sung, so it was still going and we were still fighting until the Blue calls it,” Ward said. “When Blue did that I was happy. It was about time. I am just out to have some fun. When you have fun, you score runs and when you score runs you win. It starts just like that.”
McArthur also got big contributions from the middle of the order. Cleanup hitter Luis Orteaga was 2-for-3, but also reached base all six trips to the plate as he was walked twice, hit by a pitch and also reached on an error. Orteaga scored twice and had a double, and catcher Karim Eliali went 4-for-6 with a double and four RBIs.
The leadoff hitter Gamble also got in on the act, capped by a solo home run to go along with four runs on the day. Kory Wilhoit scored three times, had a sac-fly RBI and then completed a fine showing with a three-RBI triple in his final at bat.
There was plenty of heart shown on the Bulldogs side of the field. With a shortage of pitching, position-player John Stewart toed the rubber for three gutsy frames behind starter Chris Cortello and reliever Steven Fondeur.
On the offensive side, South Broward (2-7) was paced by catcher David Brown, who had four solid at bats. Brown collected three hits his first three at bats, and connected solidly on his fourth. The liner was tracked into the glove by the Mustangs third baseman Orteaga, who also made a nice catch on a similar liner in the second that resulted in a 5-3 double play.
The Bulldogs claimed the lead in the bottom of the first, as Dylan Harbinson, Brian Luzon and Cortello all reached and scored. After falling into a deep hole, South Broward responded again in the fourth to score four runs and get back into the game. Harbinson led off by shooting a triple to the left field corner, Luzon singled and Cortello reached on an error that plated Harbinson. Brown singled and gave way to courtesy runner Chris Haughton, and Fondeur sent all three runners in when he crushed a shot to center field for a three-RBI double.
But the Mustangs would not be denied on this night, answering back with six more runs to pull away and claim the victory.