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Everglades Rallies Late To Beat Cooper City In Extras

Maurice Maiquez is greeted at the plate by his teammates after giving the Gators a 4-3 lead in the top of the ninth.

Baseball can be a heartbreaking sport.

Everything was going right for the Cooper City Cowboys (4-8-1) Wednesday night until starter Chase Bart exited the game. Two late errors and a walk set the Everglades Gators (9-4) up for a seventh-inning comeback and shortstop Roydan Perez delivered a two-RBI single to send the game into extra innings.

Cooper City managed to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth, but first baseman Maurice Maiquez struck immediately in the ninth with a solo shot to left field. A 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth closed things out and the Cowboys could only watch as the Gators celebrated in center field following the 4-3 win.

“We’ve had a few games where we have come back from behind,” Everglades manager David Monge said. “Our team is very young. There are a lot of freshmen and sophomores on the varsity team, but one thing that they have is that they never give up. As a matter of fact, in the last inning, we told them ‘let’s fight, we’ve done this before,’ and they came through. They never gave up throughout the entire game and you’ve got to give them props.”

Monge complimented his pitching staff on keeping the game within rage for the comeback, noting that the Cowboys’ three runs came on one mistake pitch from starter Christian Miranda in the third. After the home run inning, Miranda turned the ball over to Derek Gonzalez who promptly struck out seven batters over the next four innings. Adrian Sabatier pitched both of the extra frames and earned the win.

Chase Bart homered and pitched six shutout innings for the Cowboys en route to a no-decision.

Before the late rally, it was the Chase Bart show. He shut out the Gators for six innings, working his way out of several jams along the way. When he wasn’t winning the battle on the mound, Bart was doing what he could at the plate. That one mistake pitch that Miranda threw in the third inning was during a Bart at-bat and it ended with a no-doubter to left field. Although it was disappointing earning a no-decision after pitching a gem, Bart didn’t hang his head.

“It is what it is,” Bart said after the loss. “These games are fun. You win some and you lose some, it’s just how the game goes.”

Cooper City manager Chad Rose praised his starter’s performance and command throughout the night, calling him the “bulldog” of the team.

“Right when (Bart) finished, he was around 93 pitches and we have to look out for his future,” Rose said. “I had all the faith in (Joshua) Polanco who came in after him. He’s been in tight jams before, but tonight was just one of those nights.”

To Polanco’s credit, two of the first three batters to get on base in the seventh weren’t on him. Rose said that his team may have been a little too comfortable late in the game and that led to uncharacteristic errors. If those two plays are made, Perez’s single only brings in one and the score is 3-1 with two outs. In that scenario, Polanco earns the save after striking out Kelven Perera.

But that’s why the Yogi-ism “it ain’t over ’til it’s over” is so often repeated by coaches in baseball, especially at the high school level. Anything can happen until the last out is recorded, and Everglades made the most of their opportunities Wednesday night.

Roydan Perez tied the game in the top of the seventh with a clutch two-RBI single.

The Gators have a nice break before hosting South Plantation (11-3) on Monday, but Monge is hoping that this momentum carries over into the final stretch of the season. Everglades sits tied with McArthur for the best record in the district and is hoping to make a deep run in the postseason.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys are still adjusting to a new manager and lack the kind of senior leadership the program is used to. With only three players set to move on from the team, Rose and his squad are taking things step-by-step to build on every improvement.

“It’s a change with me and a culture change for the kids,” Rose said. “Everything is structured a little differently, but we’re battling. We don’t have the easiest schedule and are a fairly young team. We don’t have as much depth in the bullpen as we’ve had in the past and there have been key injuries. We’re still learning.”

Cooper City is back at home on Thursday against Mater Academy (10-5-1) and will look to snap a six-game winless streak that’s featured opponents such as Miami-Dade No.1 Miami Springs and Broward No. 6 Western.

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