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Douglas’ Luzardo, Chabarek Combine For No-Hitter

Jesus Luzardo faced just two batters over the minimum over six innings of no-hit baseball Thursday.

With playoff baseball now here, every team hopes to be playing at its best. That typically starts on the mound, where great pitching is capable of leading the way for most teams. For the Douglas Eagles, it doesn’t get any better than what they got on Thursday afternoon.

Facing Coral Springs in the 8A-11 district semifinal at Taravella High, hurlers Jesus Luzardo and Matt Chabarek combined to throw a no-hitter. Douglas got plenty of offense in support and stormed to a 9-0 victory.

Luzardo cruised through six innings, facing just two batters over the minimum. The southpaw struck out five and issued two walks to earn his second win of the season over the Colts, who he held to three hits while striking out 15 in a victory earlier this year.

A lengthy rain delay in the sixth prompted Douglas Manager Todd Fitz-Gerald to pull his ace and turn to the bullpen, where Chabarek was able to finish it off and complete the special accomplishment. The right-hander issued a walk to Sean Baran, but was also able to get the final three outs without losing the no-hit bid.

“We came out today and our guys were really focused,” Fitz-Gerald said. “We had a plan put together and we felt pretty good about it. We knew we were going to go with Jesus from the beginning and he had a good week to get ready. He’s been throwing the ball well for us lately. He did a good job today and he commanded all his pitches and kept our defense on their toes. They made a lot of plays for him.”

As is so often the case in a no-hitter the defense did its part to make it happen. Following several other big plays throughout the game, left fielder Yorvis Torrealba came through with an amazing diving catch to record the final out and preserve the no-no.

The Eagles (20-4) return to the district championship. They will look to defend their district crown in a rematch with Taravella in Friday afternoon’s title contest which will also be played at Taravella High. Both teams have also earned a berth in the regional playoffs that start next week.

Colton Welker got things going on offense with a solo home run in the bottom of the first inning.

“It is round three now with Taravella. Obviously we played them twice this year in the district and we have kind of had the upper hand here lately. But they have done a good job too; they lost their top two pitchers and they are playing good baseball still. But I like our chances going into tomorrow. It’s going to be a very good game, and it always is. I am sure they will be ready and we will too. But the bottom line is that at the end of the day we both move on, so it is just for bragging rights really.”

With their ace on the mound in top form, the Eagles played with plenty of confidence. The offense wasted no time in staking the club to a lead, scoring five runs in the first for more than enough run support on this day.

After the Colts got the first two batters in the first, Colton Welker set things off with a solo home run. Dominic Dicaprio, Devin Conn and Brady Norris all followed with singles, and all three eventually scored. Blake Bottomly and Luzardo drew RBI walks, and Jordan Hill drove in a pair with a single up the middle.

Norris led the offense by going 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs. Luzardo staked his own case with two RBIs, and Welker also scored twice.

Like most Managers who are trying to lead their squads through the district tournament this week, Fitz-Gerald admitted that Thursday’s game was the most important one the team has played in all year long. While the Eagles are anxious to earn another district championship, the most important part of the process was earning a spot in the state playoffs.

“This is the game that kind of scares you the most out of all of them, because if you lose it you don’t advance. So it was big today,” Fitz-Gerald said.

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