Offense Powers Somerset Academy Past Cooper City
Somerset Academy manager Onel Garcia knows he has a team that is capable of hitting the ball. The Panthers have faced great pitching all season and they continue to feast on it, and Thursday night’s 15-3 win over Cooper City in the HSBN Broward Game of the Week was just another example. Somerset scored five runs to take a three-run lead, before erupting for ten runs in the fourth to pull away to victory.
“We trust the lineup and it is deep,” Garcia said. “It is not your typical high school lineup where it is only the top guys. Sometimes the bottom of the order produces more than the top and middle of the order You never know who is going to get the hits.”
Perhaps even more remarkable than the offensive prowess is the fact that the Panthers (12-3) still look as hungry as anyone. No one is celebrating and boasting of what has been done, and everyone is focused together to use that success to carry them forward for more.
“Right now we’re kind of putting it all together and we’re playing very well,” Garcia said. “I know it’s a cliche but we are actually taking them one at a time. We can’t look ahead and we treat non-district teams just like we do district ones.”
That focused intensity was evident early on. While productive at bats did not get much going in the first, it set the tone for the evening. Nine hits and 18 base runners followed over the next three frames.
“We were working on what we practiced during our sessions, and we were looking for good pitches, a good approach and to stay aggressive,” said Ricardo Leonett.
Leonett was 3-for-3 and also walked. He batted twice in the fourth, when Somerset sent 14 hitters to the plate. The designated hitter had a two-RBI double and then cleared the bases with another double his second time around. Leonett also scored twice to go along with his five RBIs.
“It feels awesome because you really feel like you’re doing your work for the team,” Leonett said. “The whole point of this is winning games, so we’re doing everything possible to do that. We are always looking for the win. We’re going to do everything possible in the game and we’re always working hard in practice.”
The Cowboys (9-3) have also swung the bats well this season, and strong at bats helped set them with a 1-0 lead after an inning of play. Robert Shanley singled through the right side, Chris Valencia worked a walk and Cameron Stadler singled to load the bases. Richard Silva followed with an RBI single to put the hosts on the scoreboard.
Stadler plated Shanley and Valencia with a double in the third, after Shanley walked and Valencia singled to put some ducks on the pond. But Somerset starter and winning pitcher Angel Perez worked out of trouble to finish off his quality start. Cooper City had quality at bats but was unable to keep pace with the Panthers’ red-hot battery.
“We swing the bats well, and that was a very good team that we faced tonight,” Cooper City manager Chris Delgado said. “They are one of the best hitting teams that we have faced this year, and last year, for that matter. They swing the bats. We made some mental errors and made some physical errors that led to longer innings and it just didn’t work out tonight.”
Across the diamond it seemed like every maneuver worked out for Somerset. Garcia shifted Leonett’s hot bat up to the two-hole, and put the dangerous bat of Kenny Moreno-Costa down below his usual position in the meat of the order. Moreno-Costa got the batters going by putting a tomahawk swing on a pitch for a solo home run in the second, and he went 3-for-3 with a walk and three RBIs.
first baseman Gianny Galvez also reached base all three appearances, getting hit by a pitch and connecting for two singles. He scored all three times, including twice in the fourth inning.
The loss snaps a three-game win streak for the Cowboys. Cooper City now prepares to head to Orlando for a spring break tournament that has it facing two of the toughest teams in the state in Orange City University and Trinity Christian Jacksonville.
“I feel like playing caliber teams like that is just going to make us better in the long run when it does count,” Delgado said. “Playing teams like that gets you better and gets you ready for the postseason. It’s a big learning experience for them, I still think we have a very good team and we just had a bad night.”
Both sides were shaken up following a scary collision at home plate in the third. Somerset’s Juan F. Teixiera lined a single with the bases loaded to drive in two, and the throw home led to a collision between the base runner and catcher. While both sides were tense regarding the play, it was correctly ruled a clean play and a run scored.
Neither player was at fault, as the runner slid properly and the catcher legally moved attempting to catch the throw. While the tag was on time, the collision led to the ball coming out of the catcher’s glove and the runner safely scoring. The two players chatted and offered a quick embrace of sportsmanship after the post-game handshakes to show there are no bygones.