West Broward Waits Out Rain, Wins In Walk-Off Over Flanagan
The West Broward Bobcats (8-8) made history on Monday night by notching the first home win in program history over the Flanagan Falcons (11-6).
The win didn’t come without hurdles as both teams waited out an hour-long rain delay only to restart the game with hopes of beating the clock since West Broward’s field doesn’t have any lights. The game seemed destined for extra innings entering the seventh inning at a 6-6 tie but both teams managed to score in the final frame. Flanagan third baseman Jesus Delgado knocked in his third RBI of the day in the top of the inning to take a one-run lead, but a bevy of errors put the Falcons in a precarious position shortly after.
The bases quickly loaded in the bottom of the seventh and West Broward needed just one hit to get through the infield to tie the game back up. The Falcons did a good job making the next two plays at home to prevent the run from scoring, but right-handed reliever Tyler Venegas couldn’t get that final out. Bobcats catcher Dean Guzman drew a walk to bring home the tying run and right fielder Mason Elrod was hit by a pitch to secure the victory, 7-6.
“We’ve played a ton of close games,” Bobcats manager Howard Stein said. “We talk about competing in back-and-forth games a lot with the team. Flanagan’s not going to give up. They’re a good team. We just needed to keep having good at-bats and good things will happen for us.”
Although the Bobcats won the game on some wild pitching, the offense stayed hot all night to keep the game close throughout. When Flanagan scored two in the second, West Broward responded with three. When Flanagan took the lead in the fifth, West Broward was there again in the bottom half of the inning to tie the game up. And, of course, when Flanagan took the lead in the last inning of the game, West Broward came back to win it.
Wins like this are hard to come by in high-school baseball, especially against a rival, and it’s one that Stein hopes his team can build off of after playing .500 ball up until this point.
“I think this game will be like a trampoline for us,” he said. “I told these guys that if this game goes down as an L instead of a win that it’s really big as far as district standings go. The way we won — because we’ve been in the same situation the last three times and it’s come down to the last play of the game and we’ve come out on the losing end — for us to win this, it’s going to do a world of good for this team’s confidence.”
The Bobcats had their ace, Miami commit Sebastian Perez, on the mound until the weather delayed things. Unfortunately, the hour-long hold-off ended Perez’s night prematurely after just four innings of work. Although the game was 4-4 when he exited, only two of those runs were earned and he fanned five Falcons without allowing a walk. The good news for Stein was that he could turn to Joey Schietromo, who has been used as the team’s No. 2 recently, in relief with an empty schedule until a two-game series in Key West kicks off on Friday. Perez will get the start in one of those games over the weekend and he has the same hopeful outlook for the team as his coach.
“I hope we can bounce the season around right now,” Perez said. “We go to Key West this weekend and I hope we can sweep those two wins and carry it forward for the rest of the season.”
For Flanagan, it’s a quick turnaround to the Falcons’ next big game. They host St. Thomas Aquinas at home on Wednesday and are looking to get in the right mental space after a heart-breaking loss.
“We were in a situation where we had it won and we just couldn’t make the play,” Falcons manager Noel Figueroa said.
A suspension on the roster had Flanagan’s infield shuffled around a bit and that ultimately proved to be the team’s downfall against West Broward. Costly errors late in the game undid what progress the team made at the plate post-rain delay and by that time Venegas was being stretched well beyond what he’s used to. Figueroa described Venegas as the team’s closer and said that the decision to go to him in the fifth had to do with West Broward’s lack of field lights. Uncertain how long the game would actually go on, Figueroa opted to go to Venegas with a two-run lead to close things out.
Of course, the gray clouds eventually cleared up and Venegas was the best option available for the duration of the game. Nearly 60 pitches into a relief appearance and the command issues become a bit more understandable. Figueroa doesn’t expect those struggles to continue and was quick to point out that Venegas isn’t in that position if not for a pair of timely errors. Overall, the message was a positive one after the game. The team showed good fight and will get another chance to prove itself later this week against St. Thomas.
“I told them that they played their hearts out and there’s nothing you can do to change this one,” he said after the game.” The good thing about baseball is that you always get a second chance so we need to wash this one off and come back to practice hard tomorrow. We’ll be ready for Wednesday. Forget about what happened and don’t dwell on this because this will stick in your craw.”
The Falcons came into the week ranked No. 7 in the county by HSBN and need a victory over No. 4 St. Thomas to stay in the fold as the back half of the season rolls on.