Broward High School Baseball
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#7 West Broward Offense Explodes In Win Over Gibbons

Andrew Alvarez (9) rounds the bases after hitting a grand slam for West Broward.

The West Broward Bobcats (9-4) were in the mood to score some runs Tuesday afternoon as they took down a Cardinal Gibbons Chiefs (5-6-2) club still looking to find its footing, 16-2.

Sophomore left fielder Andrew Alvarez led the way for the Bobcats with five RBIs on the day, four of which came from a no-doubt grand slam to left in the second inning. West Broward’s park features a deep thicket of trees beyond the left-field fence, an area Alvarez is familiar with from his time in the field, and that’s exactly where he sent the ball. While it’s unlikely that Alvarez will even locate that ball, let alone take it home, it’s a memory he isn’t soon to forget.

In fact, it’s probably the best game he’s ever had, at least according to his own memory. Alvarez recalled the team’s recent trip to Key West where the Bobcats swept the Conchs (8-4) and he had a similar day with a double and a three-run homer — his first of the year. But, the grand salami trumps all if you’re a hitter in this sport, and doing it at home makes the moment even sweeter.

“There’s no feeling like that,” Alvarez said. “Just watching that ball carry and then disappear. Everything you work for and work on in practice finally comes together. It feels great.”

Now at two home runs on the season, Alvarez says he’s set a lofty goal of five or more. His raw power is certainly great enough to reach that goal, and his swing is starting to translate to in-game situations consistently. Alvarez finished the day 2 for 2 with the other hit being an RBI double in the first.

It wasn’t just Alvarez that drove in runs, though. Right fielder Mason Elrod also finished the day 2 for 2 and drove in a pair of runs with a double in the third. Alvarez actually could have scored on that play to make it a three-run double, but he said he felt some discomfort in his right hamstring and had no choice but to walk into the catcher for the third out of the inning.

Tulane commit and center fielder Jason Wachs drove the final run of the day with a single in the fourth, but it was the bench guys that came in to close out the game who did a lot of the clutch hitting.

“These guys were fired up,” Bobcats manager Howard Stein said. “We hit some good pitches. Their guy threw strikes, and we’ve faced guys in the same boat that we didn’t do much against. Elrod hit a big double, Alvarez got the grand slam, we just had good at-bats today. And the good thing is we got every hitter on the bench in the game, which is usually the goal.”

The Cardinal Gibbons Chiefs greet Tugg Hollandsworth (5) at the plate after a leadoff home run.

Ironically, the day started out on the right foot for Cardinal Gibbons. Center fielder Tugg Hollandsworth blasted a leadoff home run to right field and met his teammates at home plate to celebrate, but things got ugly in a hurry. As the Bobcats piled up runs and put up crooked number after crooked number, the Chiefs found it difficult to put a ball in play that found a hole.

Hollandsworth collected the teams only other hit of the day in the top of the third with his second solo shot of the afternoon — this one went to dead center.

“We had kind of a long weekend with no school on Monday, so I’ve been working with my pops for most of it on staying on the ball and seeing it better,” Hollandsworth said. “I feel like early in the season my head has been flying forward, so I just worked, worked, worked and put my practice to use. I was hoping to do a little damage in the leadoff spot and things went pretty well today.”

Hollandsworth is looking for ways to get some of his offensive prowess to rub off on his teammates. He knows that the team is young and still getting used to certain aspects of life at the varsity level. Keeping things positive during the low points of a long and challenging season is something he’s mastered as a team leader and is trying to teach the young guys about. The playoffs are coming soon and the team needs to start playing the winning baseball they know they are capable of.

Gibbons Manager Jason Hamilton thinks that a lot will change over the next month or so for his ball club. Along with the natural maturation that comes during a season, the Chiefs are expecting to get back some of the injured arms they have spent the season without.

“We’re at the same place we were at the beginning of the year,” Hamilton said regarding his pitching depth. “Today was just one of those days. I apologize to West Broward for that performance. Practice might have been more helpful.

“But, we’re running out a lot of young guys and the best you can do is get them experience… Barring any setbacks, I think we’ll be at 100% for that first district game. I hope we see a much different team than what we were today.”

Angel Figueroa (20) pitched three innings for West Broward on Tuesday.

Brenden Trujillo started the game for Gibbons and finished the night after two innings. Although eight runs crossed the plate under his watch, only one was earned thanks to errors extending innings. Junior left-handers John Hess and Vynn Buerosse pitched the third and fourth innings for Cardinal Gibbons.

West Broward also went with a young arm to start the game, but sophomore Angel Figueroa was mostly solid through three innings. Hollandsworth’s two home runs were the only hits he allowed on the day, and he did a good job of pitching to contact with just one strikeout. J.P. Querales closed out the final two innings of the game without allowing a baserunner and striking out one.

It was a dominant win for the Bobcats, who moved up to No. 7 in the HSBN Broward County Power Rankings this week and are staring down a possible 7A-14 district championship preview with No. 5 Taravella (9-4) on Thursday. It’s a big game for West Broward, but Stein isn’t worried about whether his team being mentally prepared for that matchup, especially after a strong showing like this.

“We play pretty good when we have a big opponent to face,” Stein said. “I’m not going to have to do too much to get these guys fired up for Taravella, Western, Cypress Bay, Douglas, Flanagan or any of those teams. These guys don’t go to sleep for those games. It’s not going to take a fiery speech for that one.”

For Cardinal Gibbons, the schedule doesn’t get a whole lot easier moving forward. Thursday brings up Western to close out the month, and Hamilton is hoping that this uncharacteristic loss is a one-time deal. The little things have to improve over the next month if the Chiefs are going to put it all together and make a deeper postseason run than some are expecting.

“There’s no wake up call for us,” Hamilton said. “They fully understand the situation and are realists. They’ve been in this program long enough to know it’s just one of those days and that’s what we’ll chalk it up to. If there was frustration on the bench, it’s because this program doesn’t lose 16-2 to anybody. Hopefully, we bring some fire against Western.”

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