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St. Thomas Aquinas Offense Shines In Win Over Treasure Coast

Caleb Roberts got the Raiders going with a solo home run, and he was 2-for-2 with a walk and two RBIs.

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Wednesday evening brought a rare meeting between two quality teams looking for a friendly game against a worthy adversary, as both visiting Treasure Coast and host St. Thomas Aquinas look to prepare for the upcoming playoffs by facing tough competition down the stretch. The two sides delivered high-caliber baseball and battled on the beautiful turf field at Ed Waters Field at St. Thomas Aquinas, with the host Raiders emerging with a 7-3 victory.

The club struggled last weekend and was shut out in a road loss in Orlando, so the focus on Wednesday was to get the offense going and back on track. St. Thomas (17-3) got a lead early and continued to plug away to extend it, after Caleb Roberts opened the scoring with a solo home run in the bottom of the second inning.

“I’m supposed to be a leader as a senior and it’s my third year of varsity, and with a 3-0 count and the wind blowing out I just got a pitch I could drive and it really got us off to a good start,” Roberts said. “We just went up to Orlando on Friday and got shut out against Timber Creek, so we really needed to start swinging the bats. It’s a short field, so I knew if I got a goof swing on it and got it up into the air that it would go. I mean, it was a 3-0 count and a fastball when I knew he was struggling and it was going to be around the plate. So I put a pretty good swing on it. Treasure Coast is a good team and we have Nova next week, so we’re glad to have some confidence going into next week.”

After both sides came up with some big plays to erase base runners in the first inning, Roberts came up in the bottom of the second inning and quickly put his club ahead with a lead it never surrendered. Two batters later, Keanu Jacobs-Guishard was hit by a pitch to get on base and keep things going. Jacobs-Guishard stole second and then advanced to third on a passed ball to get himself in prime scoring position, where Gabriel Terry made a gutsy call on his own to lay down a suicide-squeeze bunt with the runner streaking down the line, on an execution so perfect that Terry managed to reach safely with the RBI bunt single.

“I saw the third baseman back and I know I have good wheels, so I just laid one down there,” Terry said. “We can steal bases; we’re one of the best base-stealing teams in the country, I think. We can keep things moving and rolling, can score from second on anything.”

Blake Hely picked up the win for the Raiders, with five strikeouts in five-and-two-third innings of work.

Treasure Coast answered back with its first run in the top of the third to cut the deficit in half. Sebastian Martinez ripped a single to left, advanced to second thanks to a sacrifice bunt from TJ Curd and then moved down to third following a passed ball. Anthony Martens then laced a shot off the left field wall for an RBI double that made it a 2-1 ball game.

The Raiders battled against Treasure Coast starter, Bryce McBride, who delivered a quality start to keep his club in the contest. The right-hander surrendered another run in the fourth on a successful double-steal, after Roberts walked and was replaced by courtesy-runner Raheem Salmon and Nick Vera also walked to initiate the steal play. But McBride responded by striking out the next four batters.

“Bryce was supposed to get the start last night and we got rained out, so he was the most rested and prepared and we pushed him to today,” Titans manager Michael Sindone said. “He is a sophomore and a really good pitcher. He’s got three pitches for strikes and he spins it really well. I thought he threw well enough today, and we should have done a better job defensively. He competed his tail off and threw well, and he’s got a lot of grit.”

The Raiders finally managed to chase the starter in the fifth. Andres Antonini singled to left field with two outs and Cade Fergus followed with a shot driven into the left-center field gap for runners on the corners. A passed ball brought Antonini in, and Roberts followed with an RBI single to right field to drive in his second run of the night. Raheem Salmon came in to run for Roberts, and he stole second base and scored on an RBI single from Riley Rosario.

Raiders reliever Nate Thomas recorded the final four outs to seal the victory.

The Raiders added one last run in the sixth. Jacobs-Guishard walked, advanced on singles from Wade Iben and Matt Archer and then scored on a balk call to give St. Thomas a 7-1 lead.

The Titans battled to the end, tallying two unearned runs in the seventh before St. Thomas finally finished things off. The way Treasure Coast competed to the end came as no surprise to the Raiders, which is exactly the sort of competition they want to face this time of year.

“We try to schedule the best teams that we can outside of our district, and that was a really good team that came in,” Raiders manager Troy Cameron said. “We lost to a really good team Friday in Timber Creek, and we wanted to take what we learned from that and apply it, and I am glad that we had a team like Treasure Coast come down. They are a very good team and I was surprised at some of the swings those guys were taking. We saw they are a solid team just from the infield/outfield, so we knew we had a pretty good game ahead of us. But we wanted to get back out here after a loss to Timber Creek and start working back towards our goal, which is getting ready for the playoffs.”

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