Williams Guides American Past Reagan For 7A-16 Title
American is an offensive club. They can score in so many ways, at times it seems not fair. If you want a menu of home runs, stolen bases, perfectly placed bunts and some patience at the plate, the Patriots can provide it. However, on Thursday night, pitching was the norm. It seems a travesty to call an offense that produced 14 hits en route for a 12-2 victory over Reagan overshadowed by the pitching. Still, that is what Ronnie Williams did to clinch American the District 7A-16.
The senior right-handed flamethrower impressed the audience in Walker Park, and the more than 15 scouts who traveled to see him pitch, as he cruised for a complete game, striking out 11 and not allowing any walks.
“At first, I was nervous,” Williams said of the scouts watching him. “In the bullpen before the scouts, I always get nervous because they are right on top of me, but in the game, I keep my eyes on my catcher and zone them out.”
Williams, whose fastball may have brought the scouts, relied heavily on his curveball and change-up to keep Reagan (14-10) off balance after it scored two runs in the second to tie the game. After that inning, he kept the Bison lineup on a tight rope, a testament of the corrections he made with the help of his dugout.
“Me and my coach had to make an adjustment during the firsts innings. He told me I needed to slow down and take deep breaths,” Williams said. “That’s what I did, I relaxed, and all of a sudden, my curveball and changeup started working.”
His manager, Ricky Gutierrez, complimented his pupil for keeping his cool in front of so many eyes who were watching his every move. In addition, he said he was privileged having Williams to rely on for the big games, such as this one.
“He is a special kid. Those kids come once in a while, and I am fortunate to have one here with us,” Gutierrez said of his starter. “I threw him today against Reagan because I think they are a great team, and I had to bring my best against them.”
The American (21-5) offense may have put some of those scouts who Williams brought on notice. The lineup, one of the most complete and balanced in the county, hit from top to bottom. All of the hitters finished the game with hits, and all of them were tough outs for the Bison pitching.
“We have been working on our offense all year. We have had times during the year were we have been struggling, but today it all came together,” Gutierrez said of his lineup. “We worked hard this last few days with our approaches on the plate. I think that was big today.”
The game appeared to be out of reach after the third inning and the eighth run of the Patriots when Bison manager brought in Steven Feierabend, who struck out five until the sixth inning when American put the game out of the way. He did a great job of calming the hot bats for a couple of innings. After the game, he gave some praise to the opponent and an insight of what to expect from his team in regionals.
“They are a good team. I did the best pitching I could,” Feierabend said. “I am proud of the way we played and we will back in regionals.”
Bison Manager J.C. Huguet was happy with the result. For Reagan, a young program, to give a tough game to a powerhouse like American is an accomplishment. Huguet was extremely proud of his team and the way they performed.
“I am very happy with my boys. They were outstanding, they battled all year and this is the first time we will ever go to regionals in the school history,” J.C. Huguet said. “Our school is very young. The first time is always a special feeling.”
Huguet also said that they are ready for the next step. The Bison will affront regionals hungry and ready to make even more history.
“You never know what can happened in short series like the regionals,” Huguet said. “Everybody is beatable. We just have to play flawless baseball. We are not done. We are still going.”
Bison senior Raul Cortes, who was 1-for-2 against Williams, said Williams was their best and had to pitch against them because they were dangerous. He also said how important it was to finish his high school career this way.
“It feels good to achieve the first-ever winning season for the program, to make history. This year we came out more hungry,” Cortes said. “We achieved our goal of making it to regionals. We are satisfied.”
The Patriots are hosting South Broward next, and they have to prepare to play their best if they want to accomplish the team’s season goals.
“It feels good to be the first ones to win this new district in Miami,” Gutierrez said. “We still have a lot, a bigger picture ahead of us. It is great to win this. We are not to downplay it. We enjoyed it for the most part, but we still have a bigger role ahead.”