Douglas Rallies To Walk-Off Coral Springs In District Final
In a week when upsets have seen the likes of #1 Mccarthy, #2 Somerset, and #4 Flanagan all go down to defeat, the seventh-ranked Coral Springs Colts were poised to deliver another blow to a top-five ranked team. The Colts took a late lead on #3 Douglas in the 9A-11 championship game, but the Eagles dug deep and came away with a two-run rally in the bottom of the seventh for a 4-3 win, and a district title.
“We always feel comfortable in those situations,” said John McKenna, who delivered the walk-off single for Douglas. “Today it was me up at the end, but really that whole inning everyone did their job. Jordan started it off with the walk, and then Ivan and Brandon laid down perfect bunts, and Pino had probably the biggest at bat of the inning, hitting that single to tie the game. That’s the way we play; everybody contributes.”
The afternoon started as a pitcher’s duel between Douglas ace Brandon Kaminer and the Colts’ Phil Quinn. Neither budged early, as the game remained scoreless through the first four innings.
In the fifth, the Eagles took the lead when the bottom of the order came through. Jordan Hill singled and Ivan Nunez walked. Nine-hole hitter Brandon Auerbach then laced a double, scoring Hill. Nunez also scored on the play when the throw from the outfield got away.
“I feel so happy for Brandon,” said Eagles Manager Todd Fitz-Gerald. “He has been working so hard and for him to come through there and give us the lead was huge. I thought when we scored those two runs that we had the game.”
But anyone who has watched these gritty Colts play all year understood this game was long from over. The Colts, who have played with a tenacity under new manager Mike Federman, again showed why they are one of the top teams in the county.
In the sixth inning, Logan Turcott led off with a base hit. He moved to second on a sacrifice by Sean Baran. After a groundout, John Lombardi drove home Turcott with a single, cutting the lead to 2-1.
Down to their final three outs, Coral Springs’ Austin Smith led off the seventh with a base hit and was moved to second by Nick Volpe. After pinch-hitter DJ Brown walked and moved to second on a groundout, the Colts had runners on second and third, setting up Turcott for his second big hit of the game, a single that gave the Colts a 3-2 lead.
“That’s how we’ve played all year,” said Federman. “We don’t quit, and we put ourselves in a position to win the game.”
Unfortunately for the Colts, the Eagles’ rally in the seventh put to rest the upset hopes. But, once again, the game showed that Coral Springs can go toe-to-toe with the best in their district.
“We came up short today,” said Federman. “But our season’s not over. Tomorrow we go back to work. Not many people had us playing in the district title game this year before the season started, but we know what we are capable of. Now we take it one game at a time and see what happens next week.”
Next week was referencing the regional quarterfinals, where Coral Springs will travel to West Broward.
As for the Eagles, Thursday’s game was another testament to a team that has dealt with a rash of injuries, including losing ace Jesus Luzardo earlier in the year. Kaminer has become the go-to guy in Luzardo’s absence, and he knows the responsibility he now holds.
“We just have picked each other up all year,” said Kaminer. “I knew I was going to have to step up and focus, and do my best to pick us up after Jesus went down. But really, we all stick together and play as a team. That’s why we are where we are.”
McKenna agreed with that sentiment.
“Last year we fell short of our goals, and this year we have to do everything in our power to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” McKenna said. “This was a first step, but this was only one of our goals, we have our eyes on a much bigger prize.”
Douglas will host Western in the regional quarterfinals.