Despite Three Leads, Gibbons Falls In 7th To Heritage
With districts in the state changing almost every year, it has been hard finding rivalries worth following the past few seasons. For American Heritage Delray, and Cardinal Gibbons, the rivalry has built naturally. Last season, the Stallions beat the Chiefs 10-0 during the regular season, but then fell to Gibbons 4-1 in 4A-14 championship.
For much of Tuesday nights 4A-13 semifinal, it looked like history would repeat itself. Heritage beat Gibbons earlier this year 10-1, and the rematch again looked to be going the Chiefs way.
Gibbons took leads of 3-0, 5-2, and 6-4, before the Stallions mounted a furious three-run rally in the bottom of the seventh, to win 7-6, and advance to the district championship game.
“We kept battling all night, and when we crept closer, we just kept hurting ourselves with mistakes,” said Heritage Manager Carm Mazza. “But in the end, the boys battled and showed incredible resilience and pulled it out.”
In was the Chiefs who came out swinging in the first two innings. Ty Hollandsworth led off the game with a double, and stole third. He eventually would score the games first run on a passed ball. In the second, Gibbons executed a first and third double steal, and went up 2-0. They would tack on a run in the fourth on a Kellen Hirsch home run.
After holding Heritage down for the first three innings, George Stringos ran into some tough luck in the fourth. Two errors helped the Stallions creep back into the game, and when lead-off hitter Anthony Tomonto doubled off the fence in left, the game was suddenly 3-2.
Gibbons took the runs in stride, however, and did what good teams do in that situation, answered with two runs of their own.
Leading 5-2, it looked as though the Stallions were done when they went down easily in the fifth.
In the sixth, the tide again appeared to turn, when Heritage cut the lead to 5-4. This time, it was the other half of the Stallions two-headed monster at the top of the lineup, Anthony Tralongo, who delivered a two-RBI double.
An error in the top of the seventh allowed the Chiefs to again weather the storm, and extend their lead to 6-4.
The top of the seventh started innocently enough, with an infield pop out. Josh Ramos then reached on an error, and after a Sean Collings single and a Justin Aron walk, the Stallions had the bases loaded.
Alejandro Vazquez followed with a single, tying the game, and when Jack Quinn singled in the winning run, it sent the home dugout into a frenzy.
The win allows Heritage to advance to the championship game Thursday night, where top-seeded Jensen Beach will be waiting. The Falcons scored three runs in the sixth to defeat Pompano Beach 7-4 in the early game Tuesday.
The good news for Gibbons, is even with the loss, it appears the Chiefs may hold on to a regional playoff spot due to their regional ranking, but that will not be assured until district play is complete later this week.
“Our hat is off to Cardinal Gibbons,” said Mazza. “They came in with a great game plan and took it to us all night.”