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Vasquez’ Two-Run Double Lifts Southridge Past South Dade

South Dade pitcher Chris Gomez was outstanding.

Southridge senior catcher Alex Vasquez lined a two-out, two-strike, two-run double to right field in the top of the eighth inning to break up a scoreless pitcher’s duel and lift the Spartans to a 2-0 win over South Dade in the 9A-16 district opener Tuesday night.

In a battle of Miami Power Rankings top 10 teams, No. 8 Southridge (5-1) remained unbeaten in four road games this season by rallying in the extra frame off South Dade pitcher Chris Gomez, who struck out 10 and allowed just two hits through seven innings. The No. 2 Buccaneers (4-1) fell for the first time this season.

“It was a pretty intense game against what I think is the top team in the state of Florida,” said Spartans Manager Ed Doskow. “Our guys kept battling and battling. Good things come to those who don’t quit and stay positive.”

South Dade threatened to win it in the seventh, but with runners on first and second, Spartans reliever Victor Feliz coaxed a double play to send the game into extra innings.

“We had our opportunities and we didn’t get it done,” Buccaneers manager Fred Burnside said. “Hats off to their guy, he pitched a great game.”

Southridge made its move when senior shortstop Harry Tato delivered a one-out single in the top of the eighth inning and Anthony Vargas drew a walk. It was the only inning all night in which the Spartans had multiple baserunners, and they made it count.

Vasquez laced a 1-2 pitch to right field, chasing home both Tato and Vargas with the only runs of the game. Vasquez said he used his coach’s advice on slowing the game down in a pressure-packed situation.

“That’s how you win ballgames,” said Vasquez, who stroked the opposite field double on a fastball away. “I was waiting for my pitch, staying back and doing my job.”

Southridge pitcher Ralph Fernandez threw shutout ball into the seventh inning.

Feliz earned the win by making those runs stand up with one and two-third innings of solid work out of the bullpen in relief of Buccaneers senior starter Ralph Fernandez. Feliz retired all four batters he faced after Fernandez worked the first six-and-a-third innings, striking out 11 while giving up just three hits.

“This team never gives up and I feed off it,” said Fernandez.

It helped Fernandez overcome a couple of tight spots early. He worked out of a first-inning, bases-loaded jam with a pair of strikeouts.

“I was getting a feel for the mound,” Fernandez said. “I’m not using any excuses, I kept my composure.”

He got his breaking ball over the plate to wiggle off the hook in the third inning after surrendering a lead-off double to Buccaneers junior shortstop Willy Escala followed by a Danny Vaughan single. But both runners were left stranded when Fernandez struck out the next three batters.

“The breaking ball was working today; it’s been off,” said Fernandez, who retired 12 batters in a row from the third through the sixth innings.

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