Broward High School Baseball
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Two Home Runs Help South Broward Stun #1 Doral

Doral has been the #1 team in the HSBN Miami Power Rankings for the entire season. The Firebirds are loaded with D1 talent, and have easily navigated their season to the tune of a 24-3 record, coming into a regional quarterfinal Tuesday night against South Broward.

The Bulldogs have been one of Broward’s hottest teams the past few weeks, winning their district title last week for the first time in 14 years.

When the teams took the field, Doral came in as one of the favorites to win a 6A state championship. They left, with their season ended at the hands of the Bulldogs.

South Broward received a strong pitching performance from Johnny Luechauer, a two-run home run from Keniel Merrero, and a three-run shot by Thomas Giltner, to stun Doral 8-6, and advance to the regional semifinals.

“Obviously we knew coming in we had our hands full with one of the top teams in the state,” said Bulldogs Manager Antonino Schembari. “Our guys came in ready to go, and they just found their groove early on. It is a huge win for our program to stack on top of winning districts last week.”

The magnitude of the win cannot be understated, as South Broward is led by Schembari, a former Bulldog alum. Schembari took over the program this year from longtime Manager Darin Koch, and the program is now thriving in Schembari’s first season.

Last week, the Bulldogs defeated Nova in a thrilling district final, to win their first district title in 14 years, and now the program is just two games away from their first state final four in decades.

“You never know what the buy-in will be in your first year, and these guys have done everything I have asked of them,” said Schembari. “We are playing well in all areas of the game, the pitching has been outstanding, we have been getting timely hits, and playing good defense. That is what it takes to knock off some of these highly ranked teams.”

The Bulldogs actually fell behind twice to Doral, 1-0 in the first inning, and 2-1 in the second. In the third, however, South Broward would score four runs, and take a lead they would never relinquish. The big blow of the inning would come from Giltner, who launched a three-run home run to center.

Taking a 5-2 lead into the fourth, the Bulldogs would add on three more runs, with Merrero delivering a two-run homer to center.

“Those two hits were huge. Big at bats from both Tommy and Keniel. Really, we had a bunch of good at-bats from our lineup in thise two innings,” said Schembari.”

While the offense was doing their thing, it was Luechauer and Shaun Shapiro that did the mound work on the night. Luechauer went the first 4.1 innings, allowing only two unearned runs. Shapiro did the heavy lifting late in the game, going the final 2.2 innings.

In the seventh, Doral appeared ready to stop the upset dream, when they scored three runs, and actually had the tying runs on base, but Shapiro got one of the Firebirds biggest bats this season, Sebastian Berrios, to ground out to second to end the game and complete the upset win.

The Bulldogs will now go on the road Friday in a regional semifinal against West Boca.

“We have to prepare the rest of the week,” said Schembari. “We haven’t seen West Boca in a few years, but we know they are a good team, and are going to give us a run for our money. We just have to keep doing the things that have made us successful the past few weeks, and we are expecting a real competitive game.”

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