HSBN March Madness Shootout Day 1 Results
Several schools in the South Florida tri-county area are using their spring break to participate in tournaments, and 10 programs played their first game of pool play in the 2023 HSBN March Madness Shootout on Saturday.
The Miami teams dominated the day, claiming all five games, but there are only two teams from Broward and one from Palm Beach in the field. Two games were played at Pompano 4 Fields at noon, with a single game taking place at Miami Christian at the same time, and two more games started in Pompano around 3 p.m.
In the early slate, the Miami Sunset Knights (8-2) took down the Nova Titans (7-4), 13-5, behind a powerful performance at the plate, continuing what’s been a massive turnaround season for the program. Coming into the season, Sunset set a goal of five wins, which would be two more than the program has won over the past three seasons. Saturday’s victory was No. 8 on the season.
“Bats came alive today,” Knights manager Julio Mendoza said. “(Nova) did a good a job of throwing the ball low and away. A lot of undisciplined teams might just roll over on those and we didn’t. Our guys had a good approach, went the other way and when that ball stayed in, they turned on it. We happened to catch one with the bases loaded and it went over the fence. We did a good job of sticking to the game plan.”
Sunset center fielder Andres Gonzalez hit the grand slam and led the way with five RBIs on the day. First baseman David Ruesca also homered, a solo shot in the top of the second to start the scoring. Third baseman Johan Hidalgo drove in three with a pair of hits, including a double, and Nick Rodriguez had a three-hit day. A.J. Garcia earned the win after giving up five runs (two earned) in four innings while striking out three. Brandon Espinosa closed things out over the final three innings without giving up a run and striking out four.
Despite the final score, Nova had a few strong performances at the plate to celebrate. Leadoff man and shortstop Vincent Bonner went 2 for 4, as did third baseman Jordan Gonzalez, who also doubled. Left fielder Daniel Cueto homered in the bottom of the fourth, and Jose Palencia reached base four times going 3 for 3 with a walk. Damon Lopez pitched two innings in relief for the Titans and surrendered just one unearned run.
The other early game in Pompano was between the Schoolhouse Prep Wolfpack (4-6-1) and the Southwest Miami Eagles (5-4). The Wolfpack came out on top, 2-1, but the game was deadlocked at zero or one apiece for most of the afternoon. Schoolhouse Prep didn’t break through until the top of the third when Aronny Pirela singled in a run, and Southwest’s Luis Vicente tied it up in a hurry an inning and a half later.
Each team got to the end stages of the game in a different way, though. Southwest used a pair of right-handers, sophomore Pedro Martinez and junior Lucas Ramirez, to get through six innings. It was Ramirez who gave up the deciding run in the top of the seventh before being pulled with no outs. Victor Torres was the hero for the Wolfpack, doubling to center field and driving in the go-ahead run. Schoolhouse Prep relied on right-handed sophomore Josiah Acosta for six innings, and he only slipped in the fourth with the homer. Mateo Carrizo got the save despite two baserunners reaching in the seventh.
“As a first-year program, it’s good to come in here and get a win against a good program like Southwest,” Wolfpack manager Jorge Aguas said. “They’ve been around for a while. They’re in our backyard, so it’s nice to get the dub and move on with a chance to make the championship game here.”
The other noon game took place at Miami Christian, and the home-team Victors (6-4) lived up to their name with a 10-0 win over the TERRA Institute Wolves (6-3). Right-handed junior Hector Escobar through a six-inning, one-hit shutout, and the game ended early after the Victors put up a five spot in the sixth to put the run rule into effect.
The second set of games began with a six-inning combined no-hitter from the Mater Academy Lions (4-6) against the Olympic Heights Lions (3-5). Dario Alvarez pitched the bulk of the game for Mater Academy, going four innings and striking out five. He gave up two walks to take away the perfect game and turned the ball over to Jonathan Leyva to finish things off, 10-0.
At the plate, Magdiel Estevez led the way with a three-run home run in the second inning, and third baseman Yodelkis Quevedo and right fielder Dylan Fernandez each had two hits and scored two runs. Mater Academy hasn’t had the start to 2023 that manager Humberto Bencomo and his team envisioned, but this win could serve as a turning point for the team.
“It starts on the mound,” Bencomo said. “We had two guys going and we put up no hits, no runs. You don’t see that too many times. So, having those two guys combine for that was helpful, and then the bats came out. A home run there with two on base early in the game. All of that adds up to a little bit of momentum on our side.”
For Olympic Heights, a strong relief appearance from sophomore right-hander Ryan Kessner was the only silver lining of the day. He struck out three over two scoreless innings.
Wrapping up the first day of the tournament was the Cooper City Cowboys (8-2) and the Miami Springs Golden Hawks (7-3). The Cowboys came into the game with just one loss on the season and a handful of convincing wins over several Broward clubs, but a Golden Hawks team ranked fifth in Miami-Dade County quickly overwhelmed them on Saturday, 14-1.
Miami Springs scored in all six innings, plating multiple runs in all but the second. Cooper City got on the board in the third thanks to a passed ball, but the team finished with just three hits on the day. Bethune-Cookman commit Andy Hernandez started the game for the Golden Hawks and struck out eight over three innings of work. He also went 2 for 2 with a double and drove in a game-high three runs.
“Our pitcher did a good job early in the game,” Golden Hawks manager David Fanshawe said. “He put a couple of zeroes up on the board, and out hitters did what they’ve been doing so far all year. They put the ball in play and grind at-bats out. They just make things happen on the base paths.”
Shortstop Jordany Gonzalez led the team with three hits and designated hitter Jordan Perez finished with two. Second baseman/left fielder Gio Cutino hit a home run in the sixth to put the 10-run rule into effect, but the Hawks would add three more runs before getting to the bottom of the inning.
The HSBN March Madness Shootout tournament will continue on Monday.