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5A-15 Playoff Preview: Can Anyone Beat Archbishop McCarthy?

Archbishop McCarthy is one of the best teams all of Florida and is expected to play deep into the postseason, but first up is the 5A-15 district tournament.

Pembroke Pines Charter is another regional-caliber club in the district standing in the way of McCarthy, and a couple of Miami-Dade programs round out the division along with Hollywood Hills.

Let’s take a look at each team’s prospects.

5A-15 District Playoff Schedule

Location: Pembroke Pines Charter

Quarterfinals – Monday (5/1)

No. 4  Hollywood Hills vs. No. 5 American @ 4:00 p.m.

Semifinals – Tuesday (5/2)

No. 1 Archbishop McCarthy vs. Winner (Hollywood Hills-American) @ 7:00 p.m.

No. 2 Pembroke Pines Charter vs. No. 3 Hialeah @ 4:00 p.m.

Finals – Thursday (5/4)

Winner (Semifinal 1) vs. Winner (Pembroke Pines Charter-Hialeah) @ 7:00 p.m.

American – Team Page

The Patriots have only put together a few wins in 2023 and are still looking for the right formula on the field after bringing on Victor Martinez as the team’s fourth manager in as many seasons. Some stability will do this team good, and a pair of close losses to end the regular season signals that things are headed in the right direction.

Sebastian Napoles and Nicholas Rodriguez lead the team with nine hits apiece, and sophomore Alejandro Roman has eaten a team-high 26.1 innings on the mound.

A matchup against Hollywood Hills in the quarterfinal round could be an opportunity for this club to snag a playoff win, but a deep district run might be tough.

Archbishop McCarthy – Team Page

The Mavericks have been one of the best teams in the state all season long, regardless of classification, and a few late-season slip-ups don’t change the fact that they are the favorites to win the district.

Connor McShane (1.75 ERA, 36 K, 36IP), Nicolas Gutierrez-Villa (2.58 ERA, 37 K, 35.1 IP) and Andrew Ildefonso (2.70 ERA, 30 K, 23.1 IP) give McCarthy a legit trio on the mound to go deep into the playoffs with. Alabama commit Justin Lebron (29 hits) headlines the offense along with Ildefonso, who has 27 hits and a team-high 16 RBIs.

It would be shocking to see the Mavericks fall in district play. This club has Final Four talent.

Hialeah – Team Page

The Thoroughbreds moved from Class 6A to Class 5A this year and have finished in the middle of the district with an 8-10 record. Upsetting Pines Charter isn’t out of the question, but doing so on the road might be tough for Hialeah.

Jorge Barba is on the cusp of a 20-hit season and is one of four Hialeah batters hitting .306 or better. Barba’s three homers pace the team, as do his 12 RBIs. On the mound, Andy Castillo’s 58 strikeouts over 36 innings are elite.

If Castillo can keep the Jaguars from scoring too many runs, an upset isn’t out of the question. Finishing as the No. 3 seed means one win would put Hialeah in the district final, too.

Hollywood Hills Team Page

The Spartans are another club that has struggled to rack up wins in 2023, but the quarterfinal matchup with American presents a fair fight for both sides before the winner faces Archbishop McCarthy.

The duo of John McDevitt and Kristian Bailey has led the team offensively this season and will need to come up big to secure a playoff win.

Hollywood Hills outscored Plantation and Miramar, 26-0, in games on back-to-back days, so this team can get hot the plate against the right opponent.

Pembroke Pines Charter – Team Page

The Jaguars are just above the .500 mark heading into the playoffs, but the team has picked up several signature wins over the course of the regular season.

Paul Abolafia and Bryan Barcenas have been solid as staters all year round, and Matin Pereira and Carlos Mendez have combined for 37.2 innings out of the bullpen. All four arms have a sub-3.00 ERA. Offense, on the other hand, is a bit less consistent. Abolafia and Alejandro Puig are both hitting .360 or better, but Barcenas is the only other lineup regular batting above .300. this year.

Testing Archbishop in a district championship game seems doable for this group, but a second-place finish would still likely be enough for a berth in the regional tournament.

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