Pembroke Pines Charter Closes District Play Undefeated
Over the past several years the Pembroke Pines Charter Jaguars have quietly been one of the most dominant and successful programs in Broward County. The team has won the past four district championships, including two straight 7A-15 titles. Monday afternoon Pines Charter completed a season sweep in the district with a 15-0 victory over the Dillard Panthers.
The Jaguars (14-7) went a perfect 10-0 in 7A-15 this season, the fifth straight season that they have swept district play. Pines Charter now has a 28-game winning streak in district competition, dating back to its last district defeat against Fort Lauderdale on April 6th, 2013. What is most impressive of all is that neither coaches nor players were even aware of the streak.
“We still have a lot of work to do, with Northeast, South Broward and even the kid that Dillard threw against us tonight,” Pines Charter manager Carlos Iglesias said. “He was throwing the ball good, and you can not take anything for granted. The key is the preparation and what you do in practice. If you prepare yourself in practice the game becomes easy, and so that is what we do. We grind it out in practice and it shows here in the game. We don’t take anything for granted, we don’t care who we play and we will be ready for the first pitch.”
The Jaguars have continued to live up to this statement, never overlooking anyone and working hard in practice in order to take the field as prepared as possible. This approach helped them get off to a quick start on Monday, grabbing a run in the top of the first inning after Kyle Heim singled to right, stole second and scored thanks to an RBI ground out from Maxwell Romero, Jr.
Facing lanky and hard-throwing freshman starter Kaleem Jacobs, the Jaguars took a patient approach and swung at good pitches. With Kaleem living in the strike zone most of the day, the Jaguars found good success laying off the changeups and curveballs to wait for something they could drive. Pines Charter had ten hits on the day, including six hits off the starter.
Romero, Jr. led the offensive charge, going 2-for-3 on the night. He drove in a pair of runs with a single in the second and then highlighted a big third inning with a two-run home run over the right field fence.
Several other Jaguars also had multiple hits, including a pair of doubles and a pair of runs from Eric Hernandez. Jayme Villafane went 2-for-2 with three RBIs and two runs and Heim reached base all three plate appearances, going 2-for-2 with an RBI double and a walk after he led off the game with a single.
The Jaguars have now secured the top seed in the district tournament.
“That is your first goal is to be the number one seed going into the district tournament,” Iglesias said. “Now the next goal is to win the first game and then win the championship game. But we don’t overlook one game. I told our players now this game we had a good approach, we had good pitching, defense and hitting, Now tomorrow we have another game and we have to have a short memory and get ourselves ready for the next game.”
The Panthers (4-9) have one crucial district contest remaining in order to clinch a spot in the district playoffs, when they travel to take on Boyd Anderson on Thursday afternoon. The Panthers are a young group with tremendous upside and a lot of talent in key positions. It is an infield defense that has just one upperclassmen in junior shortstop Charles Jacobs, who accounted for Dillard’s only hit on Monday.
Monday’s starter, Kaleem Jacobs, and catcher, Anson Graumann, are both freshmen who figure to enjoy four solid years together, something the program can build around. Assistant Coach Terry Johnson is in his first year with the team, bringing 38 years of coaching experience to assist manager Fitzroy Williams. Games against teams like the Jaguars only help in their development.
“That is my goal. We see how they play, and we want to get there one day,” Coach Johnson said. “It’s good that they see it and really understand the game of baseball. We have a lot of kids this year who are new to the game of baseball. We need to work on our basics a little bit, but this is my first year and I see where we can move forward, because we have some really good players. It’s about getting the game in them, then learning and knowing the game. I think if they push hard they can be some really good baseball players and I think we can build this program to be a really good baseball program. Give me a couple of years, and we’ll have a baseball program here.”