Pembroke Pines Charter Wins Third Straight District Title
All season long Daniel Rivero has led the way on the mound for Pembroke Pines Charter. Wednesday night the senior continued his reign over 7A-15 rival South Broward, pitching his way to his third victory of the year against the Bulldogs with a complete-game performance. The Jaguars’ 6-1 victory at Flamingo Park earned them their third straight district title, giving Rivero’s teammates a chance to share the thrill of that accomplishment for the first time.
“This year, every single player except Danny Rivero was brand new,” manager Carlos Iglesias said. “It is the first year for the whole team to be playing varsity ball and getting a lot of extensive playing time. After the last game I spoke to the team and told them, ‘That’s it. Starting in the district championship you guys all have one year experience already. So you guys are ready’.”
Pines Charter (15-9) earned the right to host a home game to open next week’s regional playoffs, against the runner-up of Thursday’s 7A-16 championship between Doral Academy and Belen Jesuit.
“The coaches did a tremendous job getting the players ready and the player’s worked tremendously throughout the year to get to where we are,” Iglesias said. “They understand that this is just the first step, and starting next week in the regional quarterfinal we’ve got to continue working and prepare ourselves to to do the best we can. As long as we are prepared, let the results take care of itself.”
No member off the team understands that better than Rivero, who is the only guy in program history to have been a member of all three championship squads.
“When I came in here I was hoping that we could win one championship, let alone three,” Rivero said. “To be on the mound the last two years and dogpiling with my teammates is the best feeling ever.”
Rivero scattered three hits over seven innings, walking two and hitting one batter to improve to 6-3 on the year. The right-hander recorded 11 strikeouts to raise his team-leading total to 94 in 45 innings.
“We faced them two times this season and I pitched both of them, so I knew where to go with my pitches,” Rivero said. “I just tried to work the low pitches, even though my ball was a little high today. I wanted to get ground balls so my defense could work, and my third baseman, Mason Feldman, made a nice play.”
Feldman dove out to snare a hot-shot for a putout that ended the fifth inning and back Rivero’s effort. Facing the future University of Miami hurler for the third time, the Bulldogs (13-13) found their most success against him to put the ball in play and make the Jaguars defense do their part.
“We’ve been working on hitting and we’ve been talking about hitting, and I think some of the guys figured it out,” South Broward manager Charlie Cardinale said. “But we’re still taking too many good pitches and then swinging at bad ones. We’ve got to be a little more disciplined, and hopefully seeing this kid three times will help. I take my hat off to him and I wish him well down the road, because I know he is going to UM. Hopefully we can regroup from this one.”
Salvatore Zaremba set a nice tone in the opening at bat of the night by working a walk on seven pitches. Starting pitcher Stephen Richards singled to left to apply some pressure. The Jaguars’ defense followed with a smooth 4-6-3 double play to quell that threat and seize the momentum.
The offense went right to work to stake a lead it never surrendered with three runs in the bottom half of the first. Jorge Herrera reached on an error, Rivero walked and gave way to courtesy-runner Luis Palacio and Julian Barcelo got them on the scoreboard with an RBI single. Maxwell Romero followed with an RBI groundout and Nicholas Martinez added an RBI single on a liner to right field.
Feldman added another run with an RBI single that scored Isaac Valency in the second, after the catcher blooped a single to center. Romero got things going the next inning with a lead-off single, Kyle Helm reached on an error and then Romero was erased on a fielder’s choice on a sac-bunt attempt. A double-steal brought Helm in and Noah Rodriguez doubled to deep left for their final run.
“I was just waiting for that fastball; anything else I wasn’t going to swing at it,” said Romero, who was 2-for-3 and reached base all three plate appearances. “Our coach always told us to look for the fastball and react to anything else. Now we’ve just got to keep going with it, keep practicing and going hard, going with BP curveballs and changeups and everything we can to just keep on improving in everything.”
South Broward refused to go quietly, breaking up the shutout in the seventh. Manny Lebon reached on an error, David Brown reached on a fielder’s choice and Steven Fondeur moved both runners up with a sacrifice bunt. Noah Chang pushed Lebon in with a 4-3 groundout, before Rivero buckled down to close it out.
“It’s like I told the kids, ‘You’re going to open the standings on Friday and go to the HSBN website and there are only going to be so many teams that are playing next week’. We’ve done that, and that was our goal was wanting to be in the district championship,” Cardinale said. “But now if we can win a couple of games things can change. I’m proud that they never quit; they fought hard. There were a couple of miscues here and there, but otherwise I’m proud of the kids. We’ve got to fine-tune some things though.”