Columbus Advances Behind Cruz’s Stellar Performance
The Columbus Explorers (22-4) beat the Boca Raton Bobcats (13-10-2) by a score of 10-0 as Columbus starter Gabriel Cruz threw a complete game shutout to take the game from Boca Raton and advance to the regional semi-final.
In a game that was shortened due to the mercy rule taking effect, Columbus starter, senior right-handed pitcher and Stetson University commit Gabriel Cruz threw an incredible game, as he threw a complete game five innings, striking out six and only giving up three hits in his outing.
“I felt pretty good today. I struggled in my last three starts, so it was good to come out today and dominate,” said Cruz.
Cruz, being the ace of the program all year, was Explorers manager Joe Weber only choice for the start. Posting an ERA less than one coming into the match-up, Cruz may very well be a candidate for Miami-Dade pitcher of the year, and Weber thinks so too.
“He’s been doing this all year…he’s 8-0, in my opinion he’s the Dade County pitcher of the year. He’s been our guy all year. He throws shutouts, he challenges hitters, that’s just what he does.”
For the Bobcats, senior right-handed pitcher and Palm Beach State College commit Jeff Bielec got the rock for his team. Fresh off 3 consecutive complete game wins, Jeff Bielec put in an admirable outing. He threw two innings, striking out two while giving up six hits and six runs.
“Not the outcome I wanted, but it is what it is. I have four more years in college to play, so it will all be good.”
While looking forward to his future with his new program, Jeff also highlighted what it meant to be a Bobcat in his tenure at Boca Raton.
“It’s always been a pleasure playing with these guys, there’s a lot of good energy on this team.”
Boca manager Ken Muller had high praise for Jeff Bielec’s season performance.
“A Palm Beach State commit, and having come off three complete game shutouts, not the outcome you want, but Jeff’s been a work horse all year.”
The Explorers were on a mission as they came into the game hot. In the bottom of the first inning, Columbus was able to put up three runs, all while having two outs. The inning began with a double off the bat of Explorers lead-off man Carlos Jacome.
While Jacome was later thrown out at the plate in the same inning, a series of fielder choice ground balls resulted in a runner at third with two outs and senior Santi Carriles, a Miami-Dade College commit, up to bat.
He doubled in his at-bat, plating the run from, first. Then a couple of back-to-back singles led to the score being 3-0 in at the end of the first. This was just the beginning for Columbus.
The bottom of the third is where the Explorers really did their damage. They were able to put up six runs in the inning. Four different explorers hit RBI’s in the inning, including three that came in due to a monster bases clearing triple of the bat of the Lester Matinez.
“It felt great, didn’t even feel the ball off the bat, I just knew it was going to travel. I got a good pitch I could drive to left field.” said Martinez.
Thanks to the win, the Explorers advance to the regional semi-final.