Coral Glades Defeats Spanish River For First-Ever District Title
For the first time in program history, the Coral Glades Jaguars baseball team has been crowned districts champions, with their 1-0 win over Spanish River Wednesday night. Coral Glades had fallen on the short end during their two regular season meetings with Spanish River, but the third time was the charm.
“I’m honestly elated,” Jaguars manager Joe Franco said. “I’m happiest for our school, these kids, parents, coaches, everybody involved in running this baseball program. This program has never won a district championship, and one of our goals was to win the first one, and put a banner up at the gym. This senior class was the first to do it and I’m so proud of them.”
The game was dominated by pitching. Spanish River threw their horse, Nick Lyon, who entering the day was 8-0, with an impressive 0.48 ERA on the year. But Lyon had to go up against the reigning 8A-13 Pitcher of the Year, Matt Russo.
The two were neck-and-neck right out of the gate, cruising through the first three innings, allowing one hit each.
But in the top of the fourth inning, one of the Jaguar bats woke up. Senior Gustavo Lino turned on a fastball, and hit it over the left field fence to put Coral Glades up 1-0.
“I was sitting on a breaking ball, because I knew they wouldn’t give me a fastball,” Lino said. “He missed with the first two, and knew a fastball down the middle was coming, and that’s my pitch.”
Russo took it from there, as he cruised through the fourth and fifth innings, striking out five of the six batters he faced.
“I just went with the flow; kept pumping,” Russo said. “I Just treated it like a regular game, not trying to change anything.”
The Spanish River pitching staff did not let the game get away from them, as Lyon and reliever Noah Ahiyon were able to keep the Jags off the board.
The Sharks’ offense finally came to life against Russo with one out in the bottom of the sixth. Senior Jake Fishman drove a ball in the right-center gap and hustle to third base with a stand-up triple. That ended the day for Russo, who finished with an impressive nine strikeouts. In to relieve was fellow senior right-hander Steve Rega.
“I just knew I had to go in there and get the outs,” Rega said. “It was a big situation, but I knew I had to get it done.”
Joe Franco could not have asked for a better result, as Rega struck out the first batter he faced. He then induced a ground out to bail his guys out of the jam.
In the bottom of the seventh, Spanish River got the tying run on base, but it was all for naught. Rega got the three outs, completed the save and secured the district title for Coral Glades.
Both teams will advanced to regionals, and await the result of the 8A-14 championship to see who they will take on.
Sharks manager William Harvey isn’t dwelling on the loss, as he and his guys will now prepare for the next round.
“I thought it was a good game on both sides. We lost the game on one swing,” Harvey said. “We’ve got to go on the road now, which isn’t easy. But we will get our kids ready to go and see what we can do.”