Lugo’s Gem Leads Hallandale Past Coconut Creek
Needing a big win over a district rival in a spotlight game on Friday night, Hallandale’s Chris Lugo delivered. The southpaw pitched a complete-game gem to lead the host Chargers past Coconut Creek 2-1 in the HSBN Broward Game of the Week played at historic Floyd Hull Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.
“We are definitely very happy with the win,” Hallandale manager Greg Conde said. “I was happy with our pitching and the way our defense played. As far as my offense goes, they definitely fell asleep.”
The senior southpaw struck out 16 on the night, while allowing one unearned run on three hits, two walks and two hit batters. Lugo excelled at getting ahead early in counts and then getting hitters to chase the pitches he wanted them to. Lugo pounded the strike zone all night long. The left-hander threw 70 strikes out of his 92 total pitches, challenging hitters while he cruised through the Cougars’ lineup.
“I was really excited about today and was looking forward to it,” Lugo said. “I showed up and did what I had to do. Everyday at practice I put all my effort out there and bring it out to the game like I did today. This feels good, I am proud and now we have to keep on going.”
Hallandale (3-3) evened it’s mark at 2-2 in 6A-15, having already assured itself of a spot in the district tournament at season’s end. The Chargers will wait and watch the rest of the district match ups to see where they end up, while the Cougars (2-3, 1-1) have two more big district meetings ahead on the schedule.
Over the past three seasons both Conde and Coconut Creek manager Pete Perez have worked tirelessly to build their respective programs back into contention. The progress each has made is evident everywhere, and over that time these two clubs have also developed a nice rivalry with one another. The teams mirror one another in many ways, as evidenced by Friday’s tight and competitive showdown.
“I tip the hat to their pitcher because he did a great job,” Perez said. “He kept us at bay and it was just a pitcher’s duel. Unfortunately somebody has to lose, and we made one more error than they did. Playing in the Game of the Week was fun and I hope we get to do it again. We know we will see them again down the road and it was a fun game. This is what baseball is about.”
Perez admitted he really wanted his club to go home Friday with the big district victory. While that goal fell just short, the performance of freshman pitcher Robert Weintraub was certainly the brightest spot for the Cougars. Weintraub also went the distance on the mound, surrendering two unearned runs on seven hits and three hit batters. He did not walk anyone and recorded five strikeouts, as he also dominated the strike zone with 56 strikes on 70 total pitches.
“He’s the future of this program,” Perez said of Weintraub. “He’s got a lot of mettle and he’s seasoned, even though he is a freshman. He can play this game. It’s just unfortunate that we made more mistakes then they did and it cost us.”
Both sides struck early for the only offense on the evening. Antonio Martinez started the contest by getting hit by an inside pitch and then moving into scoring position thanks to a sacrifice bunt from Jared Miller. Two batters later Dalton Kazmarik lined a single into right field and Antonio rounded third and scored while Kazmarik trotted into second base after the ball got past the diving outfielder.
The bunt played a huge role in the outcome, as Hallandale answered back with its only runs in the bottom of the second. Jonathan Ortiz ripped a double down the third base line and then rounded third to score on a sacrifice bunt from Josh Martinez that resulted in a throwing error. Jamari Lively followed by dropping down another bunt, which garnered the same result as Martinez came around to tally the deciding run.
While both sides threatened again several times, neither was able to scratch across any more runs. The stellar pitching from both starters played a large role, while each manager also conceded that guys may have been over-anxious.
“Being in the Game of the week brought out the best in everybody, but it made everybody try to do too much,” Conde admitted. “If we would have stayed within ourselves at the plate I think it would have been a lot different. But we are very excited and honored to be a part of the Game of the Week. It’s a good thing for our school and our program to get exposure for our guys.”
Hallandale’s Winston Nunez led all hitters by going 3-for-3 with a stolen base.