7A-15 Playoff Preview: County No. 1 Columbus On Top
Columbus has been near the top of HSBN’s Miami-Dade Power Rankings all season long and finally took over the No. 1 spot heading into the close of the regular season.
The rest of 7A-15 are chasing the Explorers, but home-field advantage through the district tournament might be too much to overcome.
Let’s take a look at each team’s prospects.
7A-15 District Playoff Schedule
Quarterfinals – Monday (5/1)
No. 4 Hialeah Gardens vs. No. 5 Miami Senior @ 4:00 p.m.
Semifinals – Tuesday (5/2)
No. 1 Columbus vs. Winner (Hialeah Gardens-Miami Senior) @ 5:30 p.m.
No. 2 Braddock vs. No. 3 Goleman @ 3:30 p.m.
Finals – Thursday (5/4)
Winner (Semifinal 1) vs. Winner (Semifinal 2) @ 6:30 p.m.
Braddock – Team Page
The Bulldogs came into 2023 ready to compete in 7A-15 and they’ve played their way to a No. 2 seed.
There are about five or six bats that do some serious damage in the lineup. Braddock hit nine home runs as a team this year and is batting .281 combined. Cutting down on strikeouts is still a work in progress, but the Bulldogs score runs when they need to. Miguel Diaz has been sharp on the mound with a 1.38 ERA over a team-high 30.1 innings pitched.
Braddock’s biggest challenge will be avenging a 10-0 regular season loss to Columbus, but first the Bulldogs must take down the Goleman Gators in the semifinals.
Columbus – Team Page
The Explorers have been absolutely dominant this season, outscoring opponents 156-45 at publishing time. It’s going to take the entire district’s best to stop Columbus from claiming another district championship.
Power is a major factor with this club. The Explorers have a combined 18 home runs and walk (127) more than they strike out (114). Carlos Jacome has put together an impressive 30-hit season, and the duo of Gabriel Cruz and Nick Zarranz have combined for 123 strikeouts over 88.0 innings on the mound.
Columbus is elite at all phases of the game and are likely to make noise through the regional tournament.
Hialeah Gardens – Team Page
The Gladiators made it out of the first round last year with a 10-0 win over Miami Senior, and an 11-1 regular season over the Stingarees has them eyeing a similar path to the district semifinal.
The problem is that Hialeah Gardens will get No. 1 Columbus in the second round instead of a rematch of last year’s semifinal with Braddock which ended 4-1. The Explorers beat them 7-0 this season, but there’s always a chance things go differently the second time around.
Adrian Poviones is a bat to watch out for. He’s batting .486 and leads the team with 17 hits. Damian Moreda seems to be the team’s top arm with 20.0 innings under his belt through five starts.
Goleman– Team Page
The Gators might have a .500 record, but the team played some good baseball in April that has people thinking upset in the district playoffs.
It was just a couple of weeks ago that Goleman fell to Columbus 1-0 and a 4-3 win over Varela (14-3-1) is the kind of win that jumpstart a playoff run. It will take some timely scoring and the team’s best pitching performances of the season to get the job done, but there is a path to glory here for the Gators.
The trio of Aidan Aguila, Erick Torres and Chris Perez will have to come up big for Goleman on the mound. They combined for 83 of the team’s 111 innings this season.
Miami Senior – Team Page
The Stingarees have a record above .500 but it’s come against a fairly favorable schedule. That’s not to say they aren’t prepared for the playoffs, but rather to explain why they are seeded fifth in the district playoffs.
Miami Senior boasts a large group of players batting over .300, with Humberto Valle (.438 and 21 hits) and Kevin Mendia (.425 and 17 hits) leading the way. Each has home run power and a knack for driving in runs. Valle is also the team ace, pitching 33.0 of the team’s 99.0 recorded innings.
A deep run might be tough to come by this year, but avenging a regular-season loss to Hialeah Gardens isn’t out of the question.