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Westminster Academy Holds Off Sagemont In Regionals

Colin Cartagena led the way for Westminster Academy on the mound in the 2023 regional quarterfinals, throwing 5.1 innings against Sagemont.

Westminster Academy and Sagemont have faced off seven times over the past three seasons, including five postseason matchups. Although WA has won all but one of those contests, it’s always must-see baseball, and Tuesday evening’s Class 2A Region 4 semifinal game was no exception to that rule. Westminster came out on top, 6-4, but Sagemont nearly mounted a comeback before falling to its district rival.

“Our battle against them (Sagemont) has already been going on for like four years in the making. It’s like Yankees-Red Sox down here in Broward County,” Westminster Academy manager Ernie Gonzalez said. “Hats off to them. They’re a good, young club with a new coach that has some energy. They’re going to come at us again next year.”

Gonzalez attributed his team’s win to the defensive performance given in response to a two-error district final game that saw 24 runs scored between both clubs. Tuesday was a much tighter performance from both squads.

“Baseball is all about pitching, defense and timely hitting,” he said. “Our pitching was good today and our defense was excellent. Our infield defense was great and we didn’t make an error. I think that’s why we won, and we had some good hitting early in the game.”

Junior right-hander Colin Cartagena got the start and worked his way through the fifth inning, giving up just two runs. A leadoff walk came back to bite him in the sixth. Alejandro Simo scored on and Anthony Hernandez single, and Cartagena’s night came to an end. He finished the day with four strikeouts and four earned runs allowed on eight hits and one walk after 5 1/3 innings of work.

Michael Montidoro took over for the final 1 2/3 innings, striking out three en route to a save. He did go over the 30-pitch limit, which requires one day of rest by FHSAA rule, but Montidoro should be available for Westminster’s semifinal contest on Friday.

“Colin has been doing a great job all year,” Gonzalez said. “He had a little bit of shoulder soreness in the middle of the year, and we shut him down for a couple of weeks. Then, we had all the flooding, so (more time off) helped him. I went with the hot hand, Michael Montidoro, a senior who has been throwing well, and it was just a complete team win.”

Austin Bertsch (8) rounds the bases after hitting a home run for Sagemont.

Sagemont got another run across the board in the sixth against Montidoro (run charged to Cartagena) on a sacrifice fly, but WA was comfortable trading runs for outs at that point. Austin Bertsch drove in the first two runs of the day for Sagemont with an RBI groundout in the first and a home run off Cartagena in the fourth.

A timely hit or two may have finally put Sagemont over the edge for the upset, but the chipping away stopped after four runs and the celebration was put on hold for at least another year. For Westminster Academy, it was Jesus Garcia that came up with the big hit when his team needed it most. Actually, Garcia did it twice.

He approached the plate for his first at-bat with the bases loaded and a grand slam in the district final fresh on his mind. A wild pitch scored Julian Irizarry, tying the game, and Garcia lined a ball to right field to score Robert Nedry and Michael Cespedes. Garcia got another chance in the bottom of the third when he once again came up with a man on each base. A single to left field scored Irizarry, and both Nedry and Cespedes crossed home plate in the inning as well.

Gonzalez isn’t shy to admit that he trusts every member of his lineup to get the job done. It was Garcia that got the job done today in the box score, but just about every member of the lineup contributed to a run in some form during the win.

“I just try to go up there and do a job for my team,” Garcia said. “Anything to help the team win, I’m going to do it.”

Westminster Academy will face the John Carroll Rams on the road in the semifinals. The Lions are familiar with the Rams after splitting the regular-season series with them.

Michael Cespedes scores in the third for Westminster Academy to go up 6-1 against Sagemont

Of course, a loss in the regional quarterfinal means the end of the season for Sagemont. First-year manager Jason Stettner has picked up right where Alex Gonzalez left things off, and he’s seen a ton of growth among his players over the past year.

“As disappointing as it is, you tell the senior class that you’re not only a coach but a friend as well after,” Stettner said. “They’re always welcome back to the program. They left a very good legacy. I told them how proud I am of them.”

The tears and hugs shared after Sagemont broke its huddle for one final time made it clear that the players shared the exact same feelings as their coaches. Senior Matthew Carlson summed it up well after pitching 3 1/3 innings of one-hit baseball to close out his high school career.

“Honestly, coach Jason Stettner, coach DT (David Taylor) and coach Amalio as well did an amazing job this year,” Carlson said. “I have no complaints at all. They turned me into a completely different pitcher in one year. I have to thank them 100%.”

Despite the minor disappointments, the future is incredibly bright for Sagemont under Stettner. He’s established a winning culture and given a young group of players a season to look back on when they make their next regional run.

“I’m very excited,” Stettner said. “This first year we had some goals. Unfortunately, we came up a little short, but I know next year the junior class is going to be very strong. I have a couple of good freshmen coming in too. I’ve got a very good coaching staff. I can’t ask for anything more. We’re going to be okay.”

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