Broward High School Baseball
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7A-15 District Tournament Preview

Host: South Broward


Monday, April 20th

7:00 PM (5) Hollywood Hills vs. (4) South Broward

Tuesday, April 21st

4:00 PM (3) Plantation vs. (2) Nova
7:00 PM (4) Hollywood Hills/South Broward winner vs. (1) St. Thomas Aquinas

Thursday, April 23rd

7:00 PM Championship: Semifinal winners

Full stats for 7A-15 can be found on the 7A-15 Stats Page!

Overview – St. Thomas Aquinas comes in as the reigning district champions that have ye to suffer a defeat in the two years playing in this district. The Raiders have every right to be recognized as the favorite to repeat as district champs, after a solid showing this year. However longtime rival Nova is always knocking at the door, as is an upstart Plantation squad that could also land in the title game to oppose the Raiders.

1. St. Thomas Aquinas – The Raiders have been working on their approach all season long. Using the season as one long dress rehearsal, St. Thomas has fine-tuned each detail to get tings right for the playoffs. The club has put in much better approaches at the plate to go along with stellar pitching, and the team has a good a chance as any to make a serious playoff run this season.

St. Thomas has played a tough schedule, and has managed a very strong record even despite that tough competition. Manager Troy Cameron is proud of the effort in practice and on the field, and he just hopes it can all pay off for them this season.

“Playing good teams at the end of the season like we have is all going to help us heading into the playoffs,” Cameron agreed. “We have the talent and we have the kids to do something special. Baseball doesn’t always work in your favor with certain things, but hopefully we keep this thing going and we can end a special year the way that it has been so far. They deserve it.”

Pitching has been the main driving force for this team. Senior starters Nick Marchese and Jordan Spicer have been a lethal one-two duo, while sophomore Johnny Leone just may be the best hurler on the squad. The Raiders also have a nice bullpen, headlined by lefty Wes Spano.

“Wes Spano has been that guy for us all year, and we have put him in tough situations before and he always comes through for us. He’s a pretty good pitcher,” Cameron said.

The offense excels at manufacturing offense. The team loves to run and steal bases, led by speedsters Gary Mattis and Juwuan Harris. Cameron Krzeminski and Alex Dickinson have also played major roles in the offensive production.

The team is a sum of its parts, as everybody finds ways to contribute. Now they are hoping it all can come together as the Raiders try and make another run back to the state tournament for the first time since 2013.

“We have been playing great all year and we have just had a lot of rhythm and a lot of emotion this year,” Marchese said. “A lot of things have been happening. But when it really comes down to it, all of us just want to play. We’re that type of team that is not so serious off the field as on the field, so when we get on the field it is all business.”

2. Nova – The Titans may not have the dominant team like it has had in many prior seasons, but it still has guys who can win. with ace Vince Coletti leading the charge, Nova has a good a chance as any to win and advance to the district championship.

The Titans have not forgotten what happened a season ago, when South Broward upset them in the same game in the district semifinals.

“Last year was a disappointment,” longtime Manager Pat McQuaid said. “We had a pretty good year but it was the first time we lost in the first round of the playoffs since 1992, so that was disappointing. We’ll see what this group does, if they can step up and hold the tradition that a lot of other kids have.”

Coletti has taken the reigns in his senior season as the ace on the staff. He has led the team with eight victories, as well as leading the club in strikeouts and complete games. The senior has proven he can hold his own in big games, including two strong showings in close losses to the rival Raiders.

Colbie O’Donnell steps in as a reliable number two. The right-hander posted solid numbers against the lower half of the team’s schedule, and should have plenty of confidence to compete in big games.

Marcos Villanueva emerged to lead the Titans offense. The speedy shortstop has done a great job of getting on base and scoring, leading the team in runs scored. Austin Davis, Coletti and Jame Spatafora have been the primary guys to drive runs in for Nova.

3. Plantation – The Colonels accomplished a big feat in securing the third seed in the district tournament. Last season the squad had gone in as the lowest seed, and had an extra game just to try and make it to the district championship. Now Plantation stands one win away, knocking on the door of the regional playoffs if it can just create enough magic to pull off the upset over Nova.

“We had a rough start to the year, and dropping games to St. Thomas and Nova early in the season was heart-breaking,” Colonels Manager Manny Aguilar said. “But we kept crawling and fighting back. Our back-to-back wins against South Broward was a turning point and we came together as a family. Going into the playoffs with a chance to knock off Nova will be a challenge for us, but one we are definitely willing to go after.”

The offense has taken a big stride forward to help the team work its way back into contention. The unit hit over .300 for the season, led by senior Tyler Price, one of the top hitters in the county. Chris Montes, Engels Vargas and Jeremy De La Cruz all emerged as offensive threats this season as well.

Plantation has not come along as quickly on the mound, where a group of young hurlers are still developing. Connor Jones has stepped forward to lead the starting unit this season, posting a team-low ERA among the starters, while Jack Shanholtz has been its most reliable reliever.

4. South Broward – The Bulldogs have the advantage of hosting the district tournament. This should add a little extra boost when the team lays the rival Spartans for the third time this year. After veteran Manager Charlie Cardinale was let go and landed at South Broward, the club made a point of getting a win for its skipper against his old team.

Cardinale knows his young team has a tough district to compete in. With such a young squad, it may still take some time for the team to get where it needs to be. But the Bulldogs Manager could not be happier about being at South Broward, a place has roots to that go back very far.

“We’ve got a lot of nice memories here and hopefully there will be a lot more good memories,” Cardinale said. “The kids keep us young and it’s a good way to get out here and get some of the stress and tension out.”

Although it is very tough to beat the same team three times in a season, that is the task at hand for South Broward if it wishes to keep its season alive.

Senior Chris Cortello has been an important piece to both the pitching staff and batting order, where he leads the club in both areas. The Bulldogs struggled offensively, but also saw the emergence of catcher David Brown this year.

5. Hollywood Hills – The Spartans went winless in district play this season. The Spartans are under a new Manager in Thomas Marante, and as a group they are very young. Hills can take the most confidence away in knowing two of its closest losses this season came at the hands of South Broward, who it will face in the district quarterfinal. If the Spartans can make some adjustments from those losses, it could spark a playoff run reminiscent of what the club accomplished a year ago.

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