Columbus Edges South Dade To Advance
One-run games are not uncommon among teams in Miami-Dade County. Factor in the teams are playing in a regional semifinal, and you expect nothing less than a close contest.
Such was the case Wednesday when Columbus and South Dade squared off in an 8A matchup. The Explorers jumped to an early lead and rode it on the arm of the strong pitching of ace Christopher Coipel to beat the Buccaneers 1-0.
The win advances Columbus (24-5) to host a regional final Tuesday against Flanagan. The Explorers will take on the Falcons with some added momentum from having bested the defending state champion in Class 8A, and one that has proven to be as tough as any in the state.
Columbus’ Danny Casals led off the game with a single to center field. He stole second and scored on a double by Hernen Sardinas.
Alain Santana had the only other hit for the Explorers.
Coipel was locked in a pitchers’ duel with South Dade hurlers Jose Gorordo and Kendrick Pico. Coipel struck out seven, walked two and allowed one hit in a complete-game effort. Gorordo tossed four and one-third innings and struck out seven, while allowing three hits and walking three. Pico finished the game, throwing two and two-thirds innings with three strikeouts and a walk.
“Coipel pitched a whale of a game,” South Dade Manager Fred Burnside said. “He threw pitches away and kept us off balance.”
Burnside also was proud of his pitchers’ performance, which kept the Bucs neck-and-neck with the Explorers. Neither team had many scoring chances with quick innings that kept the game time below two hours.
Gabriel Cruz had the lone hit for South Dade.
“We battled right till the end,” Burnside said. “It was a packed house. The community in South Dade is really special. They motivate us. We feel that energy every time we come out onto the field, and that’s part of our success.”