Miami-Dade High School Baseball
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Miami Playoff Preview

The more things change, the more they stay the same. That seemed to be the theme of the 2018 baseball season here in Miami-Dade County. With all the regular season games in the books, it is time to get prepared for what may happen this week in the district playoffs. Which favorites have the best shot at a state title? Will there be a Cinderella team that crashes the dance? We have all the answers here in our district playoff preview. Enjoy!

9A-13

1. Dr. Krop 14-8
2. American 6-12
3. Hialeah 9-13
4. Hialeah Gardens 6-15

There is nothing cleaner than a four team district when it comes to playoff time. Simple process, the four teams square off and the two winners advance not only to the district championship game, but also to regionals.

Such is the case in 9A-13, where Dr. Krop is the only team in the district with a record above .500. That would usually make predicting the district easy, except for the fact that this district, more than any other, has beaten up on each other all year. The Lightning won the top seed with a 4-2 record.

American and Hialeah were both 3-3, setting themselves up for a district showdown. Hialeah has perhaps the biggest win of the year in the district, which came in the season’s last week against Broward powerhouse American Heritage. That win could provide the confidence needed to withstand a grueling district semifinal against a rival.

Hialeah Gardens, while only 6-15 during the year, was expected to compete for a district title, and is still in a position to do so. The Gladiators played the Lightning tight in an 11-8 loss in the teams’ last meeting, leaving this district full of suspense as playoff week arrives.

9A-14

1. Coral Gables 12-10
2. Coral Park 15-9
3. Miami Beach 11-11
4. South Miami 12-9-1

If ever there was a district that was clear cut on who would advance, it would be this one. Coral Park and Coral Gables both ran the table against the rest of the district, and split two games with each other.

But this is high school baseball. And the two teams that are underdogs have two of the top pitchers in the district. South Miami’s Kike Aparicio and Miami Beach’s Nolan Santos are both capable of shutting down their opponents on any given day. That gives a little intrigue to district semifinal battles that will play out Monday and Tuesday.

Coral Park has some of the top talent in Miami, and has shown flashes of excellence at points this year.

Coral Gables also has had their share of big moments, most notably a 4-3 win over #1 Palmetto.

Miami Beach opened their season in the HSBN South Florida Preseason Challenge by thumping perennial power Monsignor Pace. Their season has been up and down, but they have the star power to win on Tuesday.

The Cobras are always a threat under Manager Howard Cuervo.

With one of the only districts with all four teams at .500 or over, the road to regionals in 9A-14 figures to be a wild one.

9A-15

1. Southwest Miami 14-9-1
2. Columbus 17-5
3. Braddock 12-10
4. Ferguson 13-9

Might as well flip coins to determine who comes out of 9A-15. This district has provided some of the biggest first round upsets in recent history in Miami, and this year the teams are so tightly matched, that no outcome would be considered an upset.

Southwest waited until the last week of the regular season before securing the top seed with a wild 11-10 win over Columbus. The win and top seed guaranteed the Eagles a district semifinal match-up with rival Ferguson. Southwest junior Mario Garcia has been a thorn in the Falcons side, throwing 13.1 innings, giving up one earned run in two Eagle victories. Overcoming the psychological challenge of Garcia will be key to Ferguson’s chances of advancing.

Columbus and Braddock will have a similar showdown in the other semifinal. The Explorers have won both meetings in 2018, by a combined 16-4 score. Counting the Bulldogs out, however, would be foolish, as they have come up with big wins over Southwest and Varela.

So who comes out of 9A-15? That is one of the biggest questions in this year’s version of the playoffs here in Miami.

9A-16

1. Palmetto 20-4
2. Coral Reef 12-9
3. Southridge 15-7
4. South Dade 10-12

The Panthers come into the district tournament as heavy favorites. Palmetto not only advanced to states last season, but followed that up with an impressive 20 win 2018 campaign. Palmetto is loaded all around the diamond, and they have the depth on the pitching staff to make a return trip to Fort Myers.

Fortunately for the Panthers, they will avoid Southridge, the only team that beat them this year in district play, until the district final. Instead, Palmetto will face South Dade, a team they beat by a combined 18-2 score in two games. The Buccaneers have been a bit of a mystery, beating Southridge, Columbus, and Florida Christian, while dropping games to Killian and Keys Gate Charter.

As for the other semifinal match-up, Coral Reef earned the two seed with a 6-4 district record, and will face off with the Spartans. The Barracudas won both regular season battles, but only by a combined score of 9-6.

This district appears to be coming down to match-ups, which favors Palmetto, but don’t sleep on any of these four teams coming up big in a one game sample and advancing to regionals.

8A-16

1. Mater Academy 15-5
2. Westland Hialeah 15-9
3. Reagan 8-14
4. Miami Central 1-15

There is very little difference between the top two teams in this group. both Mater Academy and Westland Hialeah finished the season 5-1 in district play, splitting the season series and forcing a tiebreaker for the final seeding. The Lions certainly benefit from the top seed, as the Rockets have yet to win a district game in the three years competing in 8A-16. The Lions get to serve as the home team and likely will retain their ace for the title contest.

Even though the Wildcats should be considered the favorites in the semifinal, anyone familiar with the series history knows that Reagan and Westland have a tendency to play very close games. The Bison have not made a playoff run since breaking through into the regional playoffs for the first time a few years ago, but a win over the Wildcats can erase that dry spell. Reagan earned some big wins over quality teams late in the year to build more confidence, while the Wildcats themselves closed out the year with a solid showing in the GMAC tournament.

The regional playoffs ahead welcome Nova, Cooper City or McArthur. History has shown that the home team in Miami hosting a team that travels down from Broward County typically survives and moves on, so a district title will certainly make the road ahead into the state playoffs that much smoother and with more familiar scenery. Only Reagan has a field on campus, and there are some major adjustments teams make to come play at Walker Park or Westland Gardens Park.

7A-16

1. Belen Jesuit 16-9
2. Doral Academy 18-6-1
3. Miami Sunset 15-6
4. TERRA 9-12

For the past few years, 7A-16 has been a two-horse race between Belen and Doral. This season, Miami Sunset has crashed the party. The Knights were one of the hottest teams coming out of the gate in 2018, and while they have come back down to Earth late in the year, Sunset still has plenty of firepower to pull a first round upset.

Seemingly, the battle for the top seed was important between Belen and Doral, and the Wolverines securing the top seed means they avoid a tough Sunset team.

For Doral, they now have to face a team that has already shown they can beat the Firebirds. Sunset defeated Doral 3-2 early in the year. Since then, however, the Firebirds have been hot, and the Knights will not sneak up on Doral in their semifinal match-up. The game provides some of the biggest intrigue of any district semifinal in Miami.

As for Belen, they have to get by a TERRA team they defeated twice, by a combined 24-6 score. The Wolverines have been as consistent as any Miami team in recent years in making deep playoff runs, advancing to a regional final last year, and a state semifinal in 2016.

6A-16

1. Miami Springs 17-6
2. Goleman 14-9
3. Miami Jackson 14-8
4. Hialeah-Miami Lakes 9-8

One of the most compelling first-round games is the semifinal between Goleman and Miami Jackson. The Gators have long been the bullies of the district, and this is the time of year when they always turn it on. Meanwhile, the Generals will be riding senior ace Yordy Cabrera in the biggest game of his high school career. The two teams battled in the same spot a season ago, although this year they enter the game with nearly identical records.

The Hawks are a bit of an enigma, after blazing out of the gates this season before cooling off a bit of late. Miami Springs dropped four straight games to close out the regular season, which was twice the number of losses they had prior to that point. Any momentum they look to carry in the playoffs will have to start now. Facing a Trojans squad that is returning to the playoffs for the first time in years certainly gives the Hawks a nice advantage in a game already happening on their home field. Hialeah-Miami Lakes will hope that Acier Rodriguez

Should the top seeds both win and advance, it sets up another chapter in the storied rivalry between Goleman and Miami Springs. It would be the third time the two teams played on that field in the district championship, with each side having taken one of the previous meetings.

5A-15

1. Monsignor Pace 17-6
2. Mater Lakes 16-8
3. i-Mater 11-8
4. St. Brendan 9-12
5. LaSalle 9-12

Although things did not start off as well as fans hoped for, the Monsignor Pace Spartans righted the ship along the course and are full sail ahead now that the playoffs have arrived. Pace awaits the winner between St. Brendan and LaSalle for its chance to try and make it three straight district titles. Pitching has gotten the job done, as the Spartans allowed just 13 runs over their final seven games.

As is always the case when coming out of the quarterfinal round, the pitching will be tested for the Sabres and Royal Lions. Needing to start their ace against one another, the victor still needs at least two reliable starters in order to make a title run. Victor Segura has begun to emerge behind Kevin Martin for St. Brendan, while LaSalle has relied heavily on ace Raul Mollera.

The Knights and Bears meet in the playoffs together for the very first time. Mater Lakes held the advantage in the season series, winning both games via shutouts. i-Mater must figure out Ruddy Gomez if it hopes to keep its season alive. Thankfully, ace James Montoya assures them that they can stay in the action and give themselves their best chance.

5A-16

1. Key West 16-9
2. Gulliver Prep 12-10
3. Keys Gate Charter 7-15

One of the most exciting rivalries in the area is likely to renew a new chapter, should Gulliver Prep take care of business against Keys Gate Charter and set up a district final showdown with the rival Conchs.

Key West has relied heavily on its pitching, with a deep stable of dominant arms behind ace Antonio Knowles, while Gulliver Prep is led by a deep batting order, with area home run leader Adrian DelCastillo supplanted in the middle of the order.

4A-7

1. Chaminade-Madonna 17-7
2. Westminster Academy 16-7
3. Hialeah Educational 14-10
4. Calvary Christian 10-14
5. Miami Country Day 11-10
6. SLAM 6-14

Talk about one of the most unlucky draws in recent playoff history. Chaminade-Madonna, which had one of their best seasons in recent memory, earned the top seed in the district. Westminster Academy finished their season as strong as anyone in the district, and secured the two seed.

So here is where this district gets tricky, and benefits the second seed.

Calvary Christian, the most talented team in the district, and a team that spend half the year at #1 in the HSBN Broward Power Rankings, ended up a four seed after having to forfeit previously won games, dropping them from first and undefeated in district play, to fourth.

The result of that benefits second-seeded Westminster, who will avoid Calvary in the district semifinals.

There is no guarantee that the Lions will advance, but having to face either Hialeah Educational or SLAM, teams Westminster combined to beat 22-1 makes for an easier path to regional play.

Chaminade, meanwhile, will face the winner of the Calvary, Miami Country Game match-up. If Chaminade can advance to regionals, they would have earned it.

Calvary, despite all the tribulations of the season, remains the team to beat, not only in the district, but in the 4A region. If the Eagles were to advance to states, it would be a record-setting third straight appearance.

4A-8

1. Florida Christian 17-8
2. Westminster Christian 16-9
3. Somerset Academy Charter 9-8
4. Palmer Trinity 11-11
5. Ransom Everglades 13-8
6. Coral Shores 12-7
7. Palm Glades Prep 5-14
8. Somerset South 2-8

Miami-Dade baseball fans might feel cheated if either Florida Christian or Westminster Christian were to make a deep playoff run without going through the other. The Patriots took the latest installment in this long and storied rivalry, a 6-3 home victory. Should both sides take care of business as expected, the rematch would take place at Westminster Christian for the district title.

Last season Palmer Trinity pulled off the upset to shake up that scenario, which serve to remind both top seeds not to overlook any opponent along the way. In a single-elimination format in such a large field of teams, the semifinals are where the largest chance of an upset is possible. The teams seeded in the middle of the pack are all quite similar, and each of them should enter the district quarterfinals with plenty of confidence.

There have been seasons where Florida Christian and Westminster Christian face each other four times, and that is still a possibility should both win out from here to the 4A regional championship. With teams like Calvary Christian, Hialeah Educational Academy, Westminster Academy and Chaminade-Madonna looming on the other side of the region, neither the Patriots nor the Warriors will want to be the one traveling north to play the 4A-7 champion.

3A-8

1. Sagemont 15-10
2. Archbishop Carroll 12-7
3. Marathon 6-14
4. Doctors Charter 4-19
5. Dade Christian 1-12

3A is one of those regions in South Florida that is one of the most navigable to advance to states. Sagemont and Archbishop Carroll have been the class of this district for several years. The Bulldogs are coming off a state appearance, and the Lions are hungry for their first shot at the state title.

Doctors Charter has fared as well as can be expected in their first year in district play. While they may not yet be ready to compete for the district championship, the Hawks have made significant strides, and are seeking their first ever district playoff win when they face Dade Christian on Monday.

With only two games to win after the district tournament, both Archbishop Carroll and Sagemont are dreaming big.

2A-8

1. Miami Christian 18-5
2. Miami Brito 12-11
3. Champagnat 3-8
4. Westwood Christian 6-8

This district has largely been a three-team race over the past decade. Brito has been the top dog for a long time, with a history of winning state titles. Westwood Christian had a lot of success recently, including winning a state title. Miami Christian has been close, but has not broke through on a state level.

That could all change this season. The Victors went a perfect 10-0 in district play, and easily handled their semifinal opponent, Westwood, in two regular season meetings.

The problem comes in for Miami Christian in the district final, and possibly the regional final, with Brito. The Victors beat the Panthers twice in 2018, but only by a combined score of 5-2.

Playoff experience is always a factor in the postseason, and Brito certainly has that.

With two thrilling games between the two teams already in the books, it would make sense that the two teams may have a couple more legendary match-ups before this chapter of the 2A state playoffs is complete.

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