Westminster Christian Clinches 3A-16 Title
Tight games are what gives an audience their money’s worth. The fans in attendance for the 3A-16 championship between host Westminster Christian and Archbishop Carroll witnessed a spectacle for the price of admission. The Warriors came out victorious 6-4 to clinch the district in a close ballgame.
Westminster, for long touted as one of the most dangerous lineups in the county, couldn’t do much against the Archbishop Carroll pitching. According to Manager Emil Castellanos even if happy with the result and the district trophy, the key of the game was his team inability to produce with men in scoring position.
“Anytime you get a district championship you have to be happy. There is no room for mistakes in playoff baseball,” Castellanos said. “We made a lot of mistakes in our end and had a lot of opportunities that we did not capitalize on. In playoff baseball, if you make mistakes, you lose and you go home.”
The Warriors (21-4-1) gave the ball to ace John Gonzales, a lefty that brings heat with a deceptive delivery that makes it hard for opponents to see his ball. He cruised through the first four innings in only allowing two hits, both to David Salgueiro, who was 4-for-4 against the Warriors. He struck out seven up to the fourth frame.
In that inning, after Gonzales retired the first two batters by strikes. But the next two Bulldogs hit sharp line drives that brought up senior Danny Fernandez, who hit the first pitch over the left field fence, making it a one-run ballgame.
The Bulldogs (13-12) had pitching that was as close to dominant as a team can be in a loss. They gave up a home run in the first to Cole Kreuter that brought in three runs, and surrendered nine walks on the day. That was the bad. The good came in that with so many men on the bases, the powerful Warriors only were able to score three more runs. Starter Salvatore Lorenzo showed lots of courage and grit going after his opponents, never afraid to make them work.
The next inning, when Gonzales was in trouble again Castellanos went to another lefty. Ryan Terry came out with men on bases and forced a groundout that produced a rally-killing double-play.
Terry retired the side in the sixth. In the seven, he ran into trouble. The Bulldogs loaded the bases with one out. After a whole game of being up, Westminster had put the winning run on first base. The Warriors lefty showed an immense amount of composure in the situation, as he went to work as if the bases were empty. Terry induced a pair of infielder grounders to escape the threat and put the finishing touches on the victory.
Terry was really happy with his performance. He said that he kept his composure because he knew he had his team behind him.
“At the end, I threw a couple of balls that needed to be strikes but it turned out good for us,” Terry said. “It was a great team win. They all helped me out, they all had my back. I just went out there, I did what I could and we came out on top.”
As nice as the district title was, the real trophy the Warriors are chasing awaits in Fort Myers.
“We are very ready. Five more games; that’s what we are thinking,” Terry said. “This result doesn’t mean anything if we don’t win it all. We are going to the end, state championship.”
Castellanos was pleased with the lefty’s performance. He used him as a reliever, far from his use in the season, when he was one of the main starters of the team.
“I am extremely happy with Ryan’s performance,” Castellanos said. “He is one of our horses. He came in there and did all we asked him to do. He went out there, got outs, threw strikes and did his job.”
Meanwhile, he was concerned with his team’s inability to hit with runners in scoring position.
“This is the game of baseball. Like I said we had bases loaded a couple of times and our offense didn’t come through,” Castellanos said. “Their guy had us off-balance with his pitches. “We just didn’t get the big hit when we needed it. We just have to practice and get better.”
Bulldogs Manager Jorge Gutierrez praised his team. They played a great ballgame, and were very close of beating the Warriors at home. Even with the great result, the Bulldogs biggest reason to be upset was being so close of the victory.
“It turned out to be a good game,” Gutierrez said. “It didn’t start well for us because we were giving too many freebies, but then again good players make good plays. The key was timely hitting, that is what made it such a great game.”
Gutierrez tried giving some confidence to his boys with regionals coming into next week. According to him, they want to put some other team into the position that the Bulldogs found themselves in on Friday. They want the next team to face them to be the one that has to lament the missing opportunities.
“I feel confident going into regionals. If we play like this, we can win it all. This is how you want to be playing playoff baseball,” Gutierrez said. “A new game is a new game, it all depends in how you come out. As I have said, it all comes down to doing what we have to do and not what the other team does. We cannot control the opponent, we just have do our own thing. It wasn’t our best performance in the beginning, but it turned out to be a great game. I am proud of my boys for playing hard, for battling and not giving up.”