Westminster Christian Hits Three Home Runs to Win 3A-15 Title
The Westminster Christian Warriors (17-7-1) won the 3A-15 championship by a score of 6-5 as they took on the Gulliver Prep Raiders (16-10) in a game where the long ball was a key factor to pull out the win.
Westminster had freshman Aaron Hernandez, a Wake Forest University commit, on the hill to start the district championship. One, being a freshman, may feel a certain uneasiness when getting the start in such an important game, but Hernandez performed as if he had been there before.
Aaron threw 4.2 innings, striking out seven allowing only four hits and two earned runs. He began the day a little rocky as he did give up an early run in the first, but he settled in immediately after. He didn’t allow any runs the next three innings, and was doing extremely well leading into the fifth. He was able to get two outs in the inning, however Gulliver tackled on one more run, due to an RBI line drive off the bat of Raiders freshman Jacob Lombard. Aaron was done for the day following the run, as Westminster brought in senior right-handed pitcher Anthony Lowell.
Both Aaron and Westminster manager Emil Castellanos were satisfied with the Wake Forest commits performance.
“That was probably one of the toughest line ups I’ve faced all year, but I did my job and executed,” said Aaron about his outing. “The first inning started a little rough, but I picked it up from there…the slider was huge today, and so was the two-seam running fastball.”
Castellanos had this to say about his freshman starter.
“Clearly, there’s a reason he’s committed to Wake Forest, he’s been a pit-bull on the mound all year, and he’s faced the best of the best, and beat them, so we’re excited to have him.”
Going into the bottom of the fifth, the game was tied up at two a piece. Westminster had scored their first two runs in the first and fourth inning. The first came off a home run to right field by junior University of Miami commit Ethan Puig, who had an impressive showing at the plate. Puig went 2-for-2 with a home run, a single and a walk.
“I was able to get ahead in the count, 2-1, and then I was just looking for anything hard to hit, and I was able to get my pitch and drive it”, said Puig about his approach in his homerun at-bat.
The run that came in the fourth inning came in the form of a sacrifice bunt from Westminster senior Danny Hernandez. Then the bottom of the fifth began.
Gulliver starter senior right-handed pitcher, Luca Mendez, was still in the game at this point, and pitching well. He too had only given up two runs at that point and had begun the inning with an out, however after the out, Mendez issued a walk to Westminster freshman Lucas Argudin, which then brought Ethan Puig up to bat. Puig singled advancing Argudin to third, where he then tagged up and scored on a sacrifice fly that came off the bat of Talan Beckford, making it a 3-2 ballgame.
That brought junior Jose Lopez up to the plate. He was up with one on and two outs, and Jose came through when his team needed him most. Jose hit a two-run home run to right field to open the game wide open and make it a 5-3 game. Then something happened not even the coaches saw coming. Three pitches later, sophomore Gabriel Mejia hit a homerun to left field to go back-to-back with teammate Jose Lopez.
“I got a first pitch fastball. I was planning on bunting it, but I didn’t execute it. Next pitch fastball, I took it. When I had two strikes, I remembered what my dad told me, and that was to just hit the ball hard, and not let the moment get to you, so I just swung hard at the slider left in and I got it over the fence,” said Gabriel on his home run, his approach and mentality.
The score going into the seventh inning was 6-2 in favor of Westminster. They were but three outs away from a district title, but Gulliver wasn’t going down to easily. The Raiders began to rally in the seventh, as they strung together two hits and a walk to load the bases. Jason Marcos was then able to hit a bases clearing double to bring the Raiders within one of tying the game. Westminster closer Austin Wiegandt was finally able to close out the game and earn the save.
Gulliver manager Omar Borges liked his teams outing in the district championship game.
“I think we did a great job. we knew coming into this field with its dimensions that it would be a matter of who hits the most homeruns. Even though we played great, they got three home runs and that was the difference in the game.” Coach Borges has only one thing on his mind moving forward. “From the beginning of the season, we’ve had states on our mind. Our goal is to win states and at the end of the year be considered one of the top teams in the state.”
Both Westminster and Gulliver will move on to the Regional Tournament.