HSBN College Prospects


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The opportunity to play on a college field provided plenty of spark for the young Futures Players competing in the HSBN All American Weekend games Sunday at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field at the University of Miami. Performing on a grand stage in front of fans and Hurricanes coaches, the players on both sides showed just how bright the future could be should some of them end up playing there again as college athletes someday. Getting a taste of that experience fueled many players to rise to their best and seize their moment.

“We are playing in front of scouts and the school in your hometown where you want to play someday,” said iMater freshman catcher Roberto Moya.

While many participants call South Florida home, numerous others came from further away to enjoy this chance to play at this stadium and compete with the other HSBN Futures Players.

“I got to see different talent from everyone and it was just a learning experience for me,” said Justin Turk, who came from Steinbrenner High in the Tampa area. “The coaches got to see us and it was a great experience for me to get to show my talent.”

Following a weekend that began with a home run derby presented by the POWER SHOWCASE, followed by workouts at St. Thomas University, players converged at UM for Sunday’s live games. The day began with two contests from the HSBN Futures Stars groups.

Green Team 2, Orange Team 0

Despite flirting with danger all game long, the Green team managed the shutout even though the Orange squad collected eight hits. The Orange team only put two runners past second base and struggle against the Green’s pitching throughout.

Mater Academy’s Ramses Hernandez got things going with three strikeouts in the first inning and then an RBI double in the second that gave his team the lead. Hernandez allowed consecutive singles to Archbishop McCarthy’s MC Sagaro and SLAM’s Anthony Nunez before working out of the threat. After Archbishop McCarthy’s JM Fay singled up the middle and advanced on a fielder’s choice, Hernandez sent a liner into the left-center field gap.

“It was a great experience for me and I hope I can do the same again next year,” Hernandez said. “This was the best experience of my life.”

South Miami’s Michael Cabo came home for an insurance run in the seventh. After reaching on an error, Cabo advanced thanks to a double from Southridge’s Henry Wallen, then scored on an RBI single from Mater Academy’s Alex Aguila.

The Orange team’s pitching staff was also tough to hit off to keep them in the game. Coral Reef freshman Victor Mederos turned the most heads with a fastball that reached as high as 92 miles per hours during a scoreless inning in which he struck out the side. Merritt Island’s Chase LeBlanc, Coral Park’s Julio Silva, Carlos Rodriguez and St. Brendan’s Kevin Martin all picked up two strikeouts during their respective innings of work.

Both sides also flashed some nice defensive abilities. Enjoying the advantage of the immaculate playing surface at the Miami Hurricanes’ home, players were fearless in diving and going all-out to make a play.

“It was a great experience playing at the University of Miami and it’s an honor,” said FLVS’s Matthew Corlew, who made several impressive plays Sunday. “I was just going out there having fun and letting loose. I don’t try to think too much about it; just go out there and do what I do. It is a joy and everybody is going crazy and slapping me high five. I love it.”

Gray Team 5, Maroon Team 0

Eleven pitchers took a turn for the Gray squad and they all kept the shutout going for nine full innings. They combined to throw 91 pitches in all and watched nine batters strike out against them.

“It was a great experience overall and I caught nine innings,” said catcher Roberto Moya, who was behind the plate the whole way on Sunday to do his part in the shutout. “The pitchers looked great and we had a lot of fun, and there was no pressure. We played with no pressure and the weekend was great overall. The guys are nice and the coaches are friendly. They give you the chance and all you have to do is take the opportunity and take advantage of it.”

Florida Christian’s Matt Fernandez led the way for the pitchers, striking out the side in his inning of work. John I. Leonard’s Jordan Diaz, Falcon Cove’s Jeremy Hernandez and SLAM’s Chris Velasquez all tossed perfect 1-2-3 innings.

The Gray team took the lead in the fourth. Belen Jesuit’s Gaby DeZendegui singled on a chopper past the shortstop, stole second and then advanced to third on a passed ball. Jordan Diaz followed with an RBI groundout that plated DeZendegui for the 1-0 lead.

They added some insurance runs with two apiece in the seventh and eighth innings. Chris Velasquez singled up the middle and scored on an RBI from Glades’ Derek Bermudez, and Moya reached on an error and scored in the seventh. American’s Christian Carratala added a two-RBI single that plated Southridge’s Brandon Cabrera and Falcon Cove’s Jeremy Hernandez.

The Maroon squad managed just four scattered hits by Belen Jesuit’s Joshua Salandy, IMG Academy’s Trip McKinley, Pompano Beach’s Josue Zuany and Calvary Christian’s Thomas White.

“This felt like I made it to the next level and I want to play here and continue to play here,” Salandy said. “I adjusted pretty quickly to the coaches; they were just there to aide us and get us ready to run on the bases. I got a lot of at bats and it was pretty good.”

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The HSBN All American Weekend concluded with games played at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field on the University of Miami campus all throughout the day on Sunday. Following two Futures contests early in the day, the All American players took their turns in two evening contests.

With four rosters of 25 players all close to high school graduation and college competition, the games served as a great opportunity at the college playing experience while performing in front of fans, scouts and Hurricane coaches.

Black Team 6, Red Team 4

The Black Team A jumped to a lead early on and held it the rest of the way. The victors meshed well in all phases to deliver a solid overall performance for the fans and Hurricanes coaching staff in attendance. The Red team bounced back from some early struggles and battled within one run of tying things up late before running out of swings, providing exciting action on both sides all throughout.

South Broward’s Yordan Maldonado set the tone with a scoreless first inning that included two strikeouts for the Black team, and the offense responded with its first swings. Southwest Miami’s Danny Cruz reached on an error and then scored off an RBI double into the right field corner from Columbus’ Albert Espinosa, who then also came in thanks to an RBI single to right from Douglas’ Jacob Stanley.

An inning late the Black club pushed it to a 5-0 advantage, as the first three batters all reached base and scored. Douglas’ Jonathan Strauss sent a high chopper up the middle for a leadoff single, Western’s Weylin Cleri reached on a fielder’s choice and South Dade’s Willy Escala loaded the bases with a single through the left side. For Escala it is the first of what could be many career hits at this field, as the senior is committed to play for the Hurricanes after he graduates this year.

Solid execution with runners on base led to the first run of the inning, as Archbishop Carroll’s Rey Gonce got a grounder to the right side for a 4-3 RBI that plated Strauss. Monsignor Pace’s Alec Sierra followed with an RBI single to center and a throwing error allowed Escala to also score.

Douglas’ left-hander Brandon Kaminer struck out four over two scoreless innings that kept Team A in control, before the Red team got on the scoreboard in the fourth. Florida Christian’s Danny Vazquez reached on a single deep to the shortstop, advanced on a throwing error and then stole third base to get within ninety feet of the plate. Royal Palm Beach’s Tarik Latchmansingh exemplified his clutch-hitting with a sharp liner through the left side of the defense for an RBI single.

The Red team made it interesting again by narrowing the gap in the seventh. Doral Academy’s Brian Perez reached on an infield single, Miami Brito’s Onelio Perdomo and Danny Vazquez both singled to left to load the bases. Mater Academy’s Luis Diaz delivered a dagger with a shot deep to right field for a bases-clearing, three-run double that brought it to a 5-4 ball game.

Jacob Stanley provided exactly the response that the Black squad needed by striking out the side on just nine pitches in eighth inning. Monsignor Pace’s Alec Sierra surrendered a single to Miami Country Day’s Austin Pollack in the ninth, but managed to work around the threat to strike out a pair and end the contest.

The Black team added one last run in the eighth. St. John Paul II’s PJ Cimo lined a shot just past the outfielder and showed off some nice base running awareness to race around the bags for a standup triple. A wild pitch then allowed Cimo to come in for the final run of the game.

The Red pitching staff delivered a gutsy performance, as three pitchers combined to split the time on the mound. Atlantic’s Maxwell Charnin struck out four in three innings, South Dade’s Jimmy Galvis struck out three in three scoreless innings and Onelio Perdomo recorded two strikeouts over two innings.

Gold Team 3, Navy Team 1

A two-run fourth inning combined with strong pitching performances led the Gold Team D to a 3-1 victory over the NAVY Team C in Sunday night’s finale.

With hits at a premium against a seemingly endless stream of talented arms, the Gold club scored a pair of unearned runs to add to its early lead with the deciding margin. Varela’s Andres Artola and Archbishop McCarthy’s AJ Hendricks both reached on errors to start the top of the fourth inning, with Artola crossing the plate as Hendricks cruised into second base on a throwing error. Two batters later, John I. Leonard’s Angel Diaz singled to left field to drive in Hendricks for a 3-0 lead.

The Gold squad grabbed the lead right away in the first inning. Doral Academy’s Erick Orbeta reached on an error and then came home thanks to an RBI double from Santaluces’ MJ Restivo that split the left-center field gap. Team D held the lead the rest of the way, even despite low offensive production that saw only one more hit on a bunt single from Orbeta in the fifth.

Palmetto’s Matthew Turner set the tone on the mound for the Gold, throwing two scoreless innings and striking out five batters while throwing 16 of 22 pitches for strikes. Tuner’s only base runner allowed came on an error leading off the second, and he managed to work around the threat to keep the Navy team off the scoreboard.

Team C ended the shutout in the fifth. Belen Jesuit’s Humberto Torres doubled into the left field corner and Westminster Christian’s Devin Roche drove him in with an RBI double to right field. That was as close as they got as Gulliver Prep’s Adrian Del Castillo single in the eighth was the Navy team’s only other base runner the rest of the way.

Cypress Bay’s Jake Walker helped keep the Gold staff sizzling hot by striking out the side in the fourth. John I. Leonard’s Angel Diaz, MJ Restivo and Somerset Charter Academy’s Edsel Vichot all tossed perfect 1-2-3 innings, Monsignor Pace’s Brandon Cruz added a scoreless frame and Archbishop McCarthy’s Adam Tulloch and West Boca’s Alex Cordero both had two strikeouts in their respective inning of work.

The Navy team also received outstanding pitching that was hurt by three unearned runs. Six different hurlers threw perfect frames, including iMater’s James Montoya, Suncoast’s Tyler Lavery, Lakewood Ranch’s Devin Wall, Mater Academy’s Joe Soto, Fort Lauderdale’s Argelio Morejon and South Dade’s Ricardo Sobalvarro. The staff recorded 13 consecutive outs to end the game and give the offense a chance to respond, starting from Nova’s Trace Moore recording a strikeout to end the fifth and culminating with Sobalvarro punching out the final batter in the top of the ninth.

2016 HSBN POWER SHOWCASE champion Albert Hernandez with POWER SHOWCASE president Brian Domenico.

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Archbishop McCarthy freshman Albert Hernandez entered the championship round of Friday’s home run derby knowing exactly what he needed to do in order to claim the title. With just two outs remaining the young slugger connected on a long shot to left field that sailed over the fence at Paul Demie Mainieri Field at St. Thomas University, and just like that Hernandez accomplished his goal.

Hernandez narrowly edged West Boca junior Alex Cordero 3-2 to win the crown in Friday night’s HSBN POWER SHOWCASE derby, which kicked off the All-American weekend festivities that will continue Saturday at St. Thomas before moving to Alex Rodriguez Park at the University of Miami on Sunday. Hernandez also earned four of the five awards for his performance, adding the awards for the most consecutive, most preliminary round and most overall home runs.

Hernandez also earned himself a complimentary invitation to the eleventh annual International POWER SHOWCASE, which will be held at Miami Marlins Park December 27-30th.

“Coming out and winning this here with the crowd we had tonight was a great feeling,” Hernandez said. “It was relieving to hit that because I was kind of nervous at first because I was already at eight outs with only two home runs and I thought I wouldn’t get the third one up there. But I pulled through and got the third one out and it happened. It was nerve-wracking because almost everybody in it is older than me and there are only a few other guys in my grade here.”

Royal Palm Beach senior Tarik Latchmansingh earned the other award for the longest home run, a blast that traveled 400 feet and helped him advance to the championship round with three first-round longballs. Alex Cordero had four in the opening round and six overall, and Columbus’ Albert Espinosa, Westminster Christian’s Luis Aviles and Monsignor Pace’s Brandon Cruz all also advanced to the final round with three homers each.

Hernandez was one of the final hitters to take his turn in the preliminary round, where he then put on a show with five “no-doubter” drives to move himself to the top of the leaderboard heading into the finals.

“I was anxious to get into that batter’s box, but it was fun watching everyone else hit and get their hacks in too and see how far they hit the ball,” Hernandez said. “It was a fun show to watch, not just saying so about myself. In all it was a great experience to be a part of and hopefully those swings carry on going into the combine and the games tomorrow. I just hope for the best tomorrow and I wish everybody luck.”

The event was the perfect experience to start off the weekend. POWER SHOWCASE President Brian Domenico worked the two-wheeled jugs pitching machine in an open-bat format all night, while volunteer catchers Jonathan Roach and Juaquin Monque split time behind the plate and numerous volunteers shagged fly balls for each of the 22 participants. After arriving for a complimentary dinner followed by team meetings and jersey presentations, participants and their families were treated to the derby that capped off the evening.

The first High School Baseball Network All-American Weekend kicks off tonight with what shapes up to be a thrilling home run derby presented by the POWER SHOWCASE World Classic. Prior to participating in workouts and games later on this weekend, a collection of 18 talented sluggers will compete in the prestigious derby.

Over the past eleven years the POWER SHOWCASE has evolved to provide one of the best amateur baseball experiences around, allowing ball players from all ages to showcase their tools and talents. The POWER SHOWCASE World Classic is an elite competition in a Major League stadium at Miami Marlins Park in front of an international audience. It is a terrific vehicle for player’s careers that creates positive lasting memories for everyone involved. Current professional stars like Bryce Harper, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo have previously taken part in the POWER SHOWCASE.

“This is the third HSBN derby that we have done together, and I am very excited to be a part of the tremendous growth of HSBN and the addition of the All American Weekend,” Domenico said. “HSBN does an incredible job of promoting players and they are going above and beyond to maximize the exposure to college coaches through this event.”

Friday’s derby serves as a mini-showcase that will also bring out the voice of HSBN, Luis Perez announcing and running the scoreboard just as he will for the events all weekend long.

Participants will hit off a two-wheeled jugs pitching machine in an open-bat format, which means the old BESR bats are allowed. POWER SHOWCASE founder and President Brian Domenico will feed the machine baseballs all night, as he typically does at the showcases each year. Each player will receive 13 outs in the preliminary round, with the top three moving on to the finals. The finalists will receive 10 outs each.

2015 World Champion Justin Farmer swings away in the derby championship round.

Tonight, there will be five award certificates handed out for longest home run, consecutive home runs, most homers hit during preliminary round, and overall home run total. The overall winner of Friday’s derby gets an automatic invitation to the 11th annual POWER SHOWCASE World Classic at Marlins Park from December 27-30th.

For those who were not able to secure their spot in the HSBN Derby tonight, or do not win, all is not lost. There are still a few spots available in the Babe Ruth Classic game for players in the 2019-2020 classes. If interested contact Brian Domenico at (561) 271-7247 or powershowcase@att.net.

Tonight, players will arrive early throughout the evening tonight for welcome dinners and meetings with their coaches, as the first step in the schedule of weekend events. The weekend will then ramp up the energy and excitement heading into Saturday’s workouts and Sunday’s games.

Leading the group of contenders is Royal Palm Beach senior Tarik Latchmansingh, whose 13 career high school home runs leads the field of contenders. Latchmansingh has also previously participated in several POWER SHOWCASE events and has experience hitting off the pitching machine. West Boca’s Alex Cordero and McArthur’s Jack Bermudez have also shown strong power numbers in their high school careers and could threaten for the title. Yet nothing is guaranteed and anything is possible for the hitters who swing away aiming for the fences at Paul Demie Mainieri Field at St. Thomas University.

HSBN Power Showcase Home Run Derby Participants and order of Appearance:

1, Ricardo Sobalvarro – South Dade – 3B/P – Class of 2017
2. Albert Espinosa – Columbus – C/1B – Class of 2019
3. Jose Lima – Coral Shores – 3B/1B – Class of 2017
4. Maxwell Romero – Pembroke Pines Charter – C/OF – Class of 2019
5. Alex Cordero – West Boca – 1B/P – Class of 2018
6. Tarik Latchmansingh – Royal Palm Beach – 3B/1B – Class of 2017
7. Andrew Fernandez – Heritage Christian – 2019
8. Luis Aviles – Westminster Christian – C/OF – Class of 2017
9. David Munoz – Homestead – C/3B – Class of 2018
10. Jefferson Casillas – Apopka – 2019
11. Santos Grande – Monsignor Pace – 3B/1B – Class of 2017
12.Brandon Cruz – Monsignor Pace – 1B/DH – Class of 2017
13. Kristopher Soto – Florida Christian – 2018
14. Nick Deegan – Palmetto – OF/3B – Class of 2017
15. Cameron Husing – Atlantic – C/1B – Class of 2017
16. Jack Bermudez – McArthur – 3B/1B – Class of 2017
17. Josue Zuany – Pompano Beach – 2020
18. Robert Moya – iMater – 2020

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Lafayette manager Tim Hanson could not believe the incredible journey his team had just completed. Making its second appearance in the state tournament in the past three seasons, the Hornets accomplished the ultimate goal by winning the championship. Behind a complete-game shutout from starter Zach Yeager Lafayette won 2-0 over Chiefland in the Class 1A state championship Thursday night at jetBlue Park in Fort Myers.

Two years ago the club was blanked in a mercy-rule defeat to be sent home in the semifinal, and that same group had fallen just short in returning last season. This year featured a different group, and although the expectations were not placed on them to do so, they found their groove and boogied all the way to a celebration dance holding the state trophy.

“We always look to the state tournament, certainly, but I did not see this coming,” Hanson said. “To watch the kids at the end of the game is priceless. You’ll never be able to replace that. The community really traveled down too. It’s about a five hour drive to come here but the people decided to come out and watch.”

With only five seniors and just as many underclassmen on the squad, Lafayette (23-6) lacked the experience of the previous few squads. But that did not stop this group from working together to reach their goal.

“We started off pretty good and got into district play, where Madison moved down into our district and they beat us 16-1 in two games,” Hanson said. “We ended up coming back and beating them in the district tournament. It was the same rotation: Micah Byrd got us to the championship game and Zach won it. Then we went first round with Micah in the regionals and Zach finished it up, first round in states with Micah and Zach finished it up. We stayed with it and it worked. But it’s been a journey, no doubt.”

A night after winning big over Central to advance to the state championship for the second time in program history, it was Yeager’s turn to finish the job and complete the dream. The right-hander proved up to the task by working efficiently to stymie the Indians’ lineup. Yeager scattered three hits and four walks and struck out a pair, including a strikeout against the final batter that ended the night and triggered the celebration.

Lafeyette's Zach Yeager threw a complete-game shutout.

Following a Gatorade shower compliments of his excited players, Hanson could not help but grin and enjoy the moment his guys had earned for themselves.

“The kids are great,” Hanson said. “They work their butts off and they are great kids too. I know the community is very proud of them. Not only do they come to practice every day and work but they are super kids. I love being around them. Win or lose tonight I was going to be just as proud.”

Those fans that made the journey were rewarded with an early lead that helped fuel the excitement. In the bottom of the second inning Calb Land reached on an infield single, Bryson Bracewell dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move him to second and Coley Hingson pushed Land to third after getting the ball on the ground to the right side for a 4-3 groundout. Kayne Hurst then delivered a single up the middle to send Land the final 90 feet home for a 1-0 lead.

Backed with a lead, Yeager excelled at getting fly balls that were easily handled by his defense. Chiefland (24-5) had 14 flyouts and struggled to get any offense going.

The Hornets added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. Byrd walked and was replaced by pinch-runner Kerby Hanson. Kerby stole second base and then raced around and scored thanks to an RBI single up the middle from Mason Herring.

The Lions dogpile to celebrate their 2015 state championship.

Oviedo made school history by winning the Class 7A state championship on Thursday evening. The Lions dispatched Sarasota 9-5 to earn their place in history, setting off a raucous celebration on the field at jetBlue Park in Fort Myers. It was Oviedo’s first time in the state championship, after falling in the semifinal round in four previous appearances dating back to its first trip to states in 1986.

The Lions (27-5) broke things open with two outs in the top of the first inning. Ty Powell and Ryan Anderson were both hit by pitches, and catcher JJ Woodard delivered a double to center field to push both players home and get the scoring started. Corey Shearer came in to run for Woodard, and he quickly advanced into scoring position thanks to a single from Christian Arroyo. Austin Parker followed with an RBI single to drive home Shearer, and Shane Miller added an RBI single to plate Arroyo and give Oviedo a 4-0 advantage.

Oviedo increased its lead in the top of the fifth. Woodard singled to left field, and Arroyo jumped on a 2-0 offering and crushed it over the Green Monster for a two-run home run and a 6-1 lead.

The club continued to pound away to put things out of reach with three more runs in the sixth. Shane Miller singled to begin the inning, and then moved to second on the strength of a sacrifice bunt from Cameron Peppiatt. Deacon Liput put runners on the corners with a ground-ball single to right field, and Ty Powell singled to left to drive in Miller. Carlos Cortes sent a fly ball to center for a sac-fly that pushed Liput across the plate, and an Anderson single allowed Powell to come in and push the lead to 9-1.

Sarasota (20-11) got on the scoreboard with a run in the bottom of the second. Nick Long worked a leadoff walk, Carson Kyser followed suit and then gave way to courtesy-runner Kyle McMullen. Adam Imwalle loaded the bases on a single to center, and Matt Schlabach deposited an RBI single on a liner to left that drove in Long for the Sailors’ first run of the contest.

Cameron Peppiatt picked up the win with five gritty innings on the mound.

True to the grit the team has shown all throughout its playoff run this year, Sarasota continued to battle back even after falling into a very deep hole. Imwalle and Schlabach both singled to start the bottom of the sixth, with Imwalle then coming home on an RBI groundout from Aidan Wolfe. Frey came through with an RBI single that plated Schlabach and kept the pressure going, and Cody Brickhouse increased that pressure when he lined a double just fair along the left field line for a double that pushed Frey across the plate.

Arroyo came up with another big play for his team that ended the threat, as he tracked down a pop fly in front of the first base dugout to make the catch even despite colliding with Woodard in the process.

Peppiatt picked up the win on the mound for Oviedo, working through five innings while scattering six hits and four walks and picking up three strikeouts. Although the Sailors threatened to get back into the game several times, Peppiatt was able to work out of trouble and hand a big lead off to reliever Nick Logan.

Logan also faced some adversity as the tenacious Sailors continued to battle to the very end. Down to its final out in the bottom of the seventh, Schlabach continued to give Sarasota hope by connecting for a double to deep to left field. Arauz came through with an RBI single to right field that allowed Schlabach to score, but Logan induced a fly ball to Cortez in center field for the final out that sealed the victory.

The Conquerors' Josh Broughton scores during a four-fun first inning that paved the way to the championship victory.

Championship Gallery

The Trinity Christian Conquerors showed from the very start that they were in it to win it. Behind a hot start and a strong pitching performance from Ryan Aspinwall, Trinity Christian edged Bishop Verot to claim the Class 4A state title early Wednesday morning at jetBlue Park in Fort Myers. Due to weather delays, the contest began three hours past its original start time at 10:30 Tuesday night, leading to a celebration that did not come until one o’clock in the morning.

It is the first state championship in program history. The Conquerors (23-8) were playing in their second championship, having also reached the title game in 2000.

Bishop Verot had battled back with a run in the seventh when Trevor Cramer doubled and scored on an RBI single from Richie Nizza. With the tying run at the plate, reliever Rollin Layton induced an infield grounder for the final out that sealed the victory.

Trinity Christian went right to work with four runs in the top of the first inning. John Flowers led off the game with a single to center, and Austin Martin moved him into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Flowers then came home to start the scoring when Logan Nugent reached on an infield error. Andrew Williamson drew a walk and the Conquerors plated another unearned run on an error following a single from John Broughton.

With the pressure on Bishop Verot (25-7) and starter Thaddeus Ward, Williamson increased the dial by swiping third base. Rollin Layton dropped down a sacrifice bunt that drove Williamson home, and he ducked under the tag along the first base line to keep things going. Cody Crawford followed with a single to left field that plated Broughton and gave Trinity Christian a 4-0 advantage.

Staked to a lead, Aspinwall kept the momentum on his side of the field with a 1-2-3 bottom of the first. The right-hander attacked the Vikings without fear, challenging batters and trusting the defense behind him. The senior worked into the seventh inning, allowing one earned run while scattering five hits and two walks. He recorded three strikeouts on 95 total pitches, before giving way to Layton in the final inning.

The Conquerors increased their lead in the top of the sixth. Crawford drew a leadoff walk, Brooks Wilson singled and Austin Martin was intentionally walked to load the bases. Nugent drove a liner past first base and into the right field corner, driving in two runners with a double.

The Vikings finally got on the scoreboard to cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the sixth. CJ Alexander reached on an error, Richie Nizza drew a walk and Michael Richey reached on a fielder’s choice that loaded the bases. Courtesy-runner Dalton Lagrave came in to run for Richey, while Anthony Tejeda stepped to the plate. The designated hitter delivered to end the shutout with an RBI single that pushed CJ Alexander home.

With the momentum now on their side, the Vikings kept attacking. Cory Castellano reached on a fielder’s choice that erased Nizza at third and brought Blaze Alexander to the plate. The third baseman delivered Bishop Verot’s biggest hit of the night with a liner to center field that scored two runs to pull within 6-3.

While the Conquerors bent late, they never lost the lead. The fire that started in the first inning continued to burn throughout the night and into the next morning. When the smoke finally cleared, Trinity Christian emerged with its first championship trophy and memories that will last forever.

For the fourth time in less than a decade, the Venice Indians are state champions. Behind a big fourth inning and a great pitching performance from starter Caleb Williams and relievers Colin Cristello and Kade Hunkapiller, Venice stormed to a 5-0 victory over Bartram Trail to claim the Class 6A state title on Saturday night.

The Indians earned their first state crown in Class 5A, to go along with a 6A title in 2007 and back-to-back 7A championships in 2012 and 2013. Since the FHSAA only expanded to add the 8A and 7A classifications in 2012, Venice now has the distinction of being the only school in the state to hold titles in these three classifications.

“I don’t think any one is better than the other; they are all great teams and they are all great kids,” Venice Manager Craig Faulkner said. “I’m excited for this team because no one expected them to do this well, but they just kept doing it time after time as they kept stepping up to the plate. So it was awesome.”

Following the victory, the team lined up along the third base line for the medal and trophy presentation. Faulkner took that opportunity to work his way down the line, hugging each player one by one and sharing a few personal words for each member of the tribe. It was a moment that meant a lot to the skipper and his team, and one that really helped to bring the euphoria into focus.

“When you get to win like this everyone is happy, and as a coach you are so proud of all of them,” Faulkner said. “You can’t play all of them the same amount of time but you are so proud that they all stuck in and they all did the work that you asked them to do. It is just a special moment between coaches and players when you get to thank them for what they’ve done.”

Making his first start of the season on the grand stage of jetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Williams showed the poise and ability of any seasoned veteran to earn the win with five scoreless innings. The sophomore spent a lot of the year pitching for the junior varsity team, but all along the coaches knew they would be counting on him down the stretch in big playoff games.

“Caleb did a great job when he came up and he has ice water running through his veins,” Faulkner said. “He’s going to be a great pitcher here at Venice High School. He’s got three pitches that he throws for strikes and he is an extremely smart young man. He’s a good student, a good player and just a good citizen who does everything that we ask of him. That’s why he got the nod is because we knew he would come through for us.”

Williams scattered three hits and two walks, while picking up three strikeouts. He was ably backed by a ferocious defense that made numerous diving catches to rob base hits and keep runners off the bases.

Venice Manager Craig Faulkner took a moment to personally thank every member of the team following their title victory.

Across the diamond, Bears starter Joseph Hoelle kept pace with Williams early on. Hoelle attacked the Venice batting order fearlessly, challenging hitters while showcasing his best stuff.

The Indians (29-3) got the offense going with a three-run fourth inning that chased Hoelle from the contest. Scott Dubrule singled and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Jake Grubbs. Shane Shifflett followed with a single to right field to put runners on the corners, and Cristello dropped down a great bunt on a safety-squeeze play to drive Dubrule in for the first run of the night. Brent Killam kept things going with a liner into the left field corner for an RBI double that plated Shifflett, and Trevor Holloway added an RBI single that scored Killam for a 3-0 advantage.

The Indians added two more insurance runs to pull away. Cristello drove in Dubrule with a sacrifice flyout in the fifth, and Dubrule added an RBI single to score Holloway in the sixth.

Coming off an epic battle with defending state champion Mater Academy in Friday’s 6A semifinal, Venice showed no signs of fatigue in playing for the title. The Indians showed up with focus and determination, which Faulkner admitted has been their mantra all season long.

“Every game they played this year they came to win,” Faulkner said. “This team was an unusual team that didn’t need a lot of motivation. They came ready to play. We tried to give them a lot of motivation, and they took to it. But they came to play every game and they are just an unusual bunch. They pulled for each other and just had a great team chemistry. They just did all the little things that we asked them to do and they are a very impressive group.”

The Bears (24-7) had also survived an 11-inning battle over Forest in the 6A semifinals to advance to the state championship for the first time in program history. Bartram Trail threatened in several innings, but was unable to break through against the feisty Venice defense. Mike Cassala led the Bears by going 2-for-3 to account for half the team’s hits.

The Red Devils' seniors celebrate their second straight Class 1A state championship, following Thursday's 3-0 win over Blountstown.

Thursday was a historic day for the Williston Red Devils.

The team celebrated its second straight state title following a 3-0 victory over Blountstown in the Class 1A state championship, played at jetBlue Park in Fort Myers. After also winning 4-0 over Chipley in last year’s state final, Williston becomes the first school in Florida history to win consecutive state titles by way of a shutout in the championship game.

It is the third state championship in program history, as the team also won a state crown way back in 1923. In three championship game victories Williston has yet to allow a run, winning all three contests by way of a shutout. The Red Devils’ 1923 championship came following a 5-0 victory over Summerlin Institute, and it came a year after the school lost 9-0 to Summerlin Institute in Florida’s very first high school baseball state championship.

On Thursday, left-hander Austin Langworthy closed out a dominate junior year by going the distance for the complete-game shutout. The southpaw pounded the strike zone with 55 of his 76 pitches, limiting Blountstown (22-9) to two hits and a hit batsman. Langworthy struck out seven to up his season total to 84 strikeouts overall, and he faced just three batters over the minimum.

Across the mound, Tigers starter Derek Eberly also proved to be tough to hit against. The junior right-hander matched Langworthy pitch for pitch early on, keeping things scoreless into the bottom of the fourth. Eberly took the loss following five full innings of work, allowing six hits and a walk while picking up three strikeouts.

University of Florida commit Austin Langworthy tossed a complete-game shutout to earn the championship-game victory.

Williston (27-2) struck for all the runs it would need in the fourth. Langworthy got things going by drawing a leadoff walk, and he advanced to second base thanks to a sacrifice bunt from Britton Hall. Cameron Coffey followed with a single, and Langworthy came around to score on a throwing error that allowed Coffey to move to second base. Haydn Cano added an insurance run with an RBI double that pushed Coffey home.

An inning later the Red Devils added another insurance run. Ryan Battle led off with a single, and Langworthy moved him along with another base hit. Coffey then delivered an RBI single to increase the lead to 3-0, after Battle scored on the play.

Since dropping down from Class 4A to Class 1A before the start of the 2014 season, Williston has dominated amongst its peers. The team has gone a perfect 31-0 against fellow Class 1A opponents, and ends this season on a 20-game winning streak.

TERRA Institute and Manager Ernie Padron will head into the tourney as a high seed.

In less than two weeks, one of the top high school baseball Spring Break tournaments in the nation will take place right here in South Florida. The HSBN March Madness Shootout presented by Galeo Spices will begin on Saturday, March 21st and run until champions are crowned at St. Thomas University on Thursday, March 26th. This 32-team tournament pits some of the most accomplished baseball programs in the area, including 11 former Florida state champions and three former National Champions.

“It’s a no-brainer for us to host these games,” said St. Thomas University Manager Jorge Perez. “It’s good for players to see our facility and the field itself, the quality of the field we have. The kids enjoy being in it and for us, we get to see some of the best talent in the area.”

Teams will be divided into two brackets of play, the Gold and Black Brackets. Brackets will be selected based upon overall seedings, which will be announced on March 16th. The teams seeded within the top 16 will compile the Gold Bracket, and the teams seeded from 17 to 32 will make up the Black Bracket.

With the tournament just weeks away, everyone is getting excited.

“We decided not to travel this year simply because of the teams we heard are in this,” admitted Flanagan Manager Ray Evans, whose Falcons are three-time state champions and also won the 2010 National Championship. “We thought we would be better off to stay put, even though we like to travel just to see what else is out there. But this time we stayed put simply because of the type of talent that is going to be in this tournament, from the teams that have really good individuals and then some really good teams overall. It will be really cool to have the best teams from the tri-county region, and it is really going to promote our area.”

Another national championship manager agreed.

“We knew that if HSBN is doing it, it will be a great one,” Archbishop McCarthy Manager Rich Bielski said. “If you do well in this tournament it’s a very good sign for your team.”

With such high level of play, the HSBN March Madness Shootout expects to draw all the top college and pro scouts from across the country.

“I personally want to thank HSBN for the high school tournament it is hosting in the area of South Florida,” Chicago White Sox scout Jose “Pepe” Ortega said. “It is allowing us as scouts here in the area to be able to scout the talent here locally, and is allowing the players to be able to showcase their talents. The scouts here in South Florida completely back HSBN up 100%.”

Beyond the high level of competition are many other aspects that contribute to make the HSBN March Madness Shootout unique and exciting. Each team is guaranteed to play four games in all, and every team will play on Opening Day on March 21st. Teams that are eliminated from the winners bracket will then compete in the consolation pool, and consolation pool games will be assigned by HSBN to ensure teams face some fresh competition.

Most programs have a school or two out there that they have always wished to face, and yet never got such an opportunity. The HSBN March Madness Shootout could make those games a reality.

“It’s a great idea to do it that way,” agreed Bielski. “There are always teams you want to play but just don’t have room on your schedule, especially now that we are required to play two district games. This tournament enables the chance for some old rivalry games too, and that is exciting.”

Archbishop knows a thing or two about winning tournaments, and will enter as a top seed.

Due to the success the Mavericks have enjoyed in recent years, they know they will have a target on their backs. Yet in a field as deep and talented as this one, predicting an ultimate champion seems impossible to do. It is a tournament crown so many teams can realistically strive for, and the true winners will be all those in attendance to watch the best teams in the South Florida baseball community battle their way to the title.

Here are the important details:

– Tournament will run off of tournaments.hsbn.us. All teams and rosters have already been entered, so feel free to check them out anytime!. Also, scores, stats, and brackets can be found here each day. An all-tournament team will be selected at the end of the event.

– The entire schedule of times and locations can be found now on the Tourney Schedule Page

And, daily schedules can be found here, as well as on your county schedule pages.

– Schedules will be updated by 11PM each night for the next day’s action.

– Seedings and first round match-ups will be announced Monday, March 16th.


American (2014 State Champion)
Archbishop Carroll
Archbishop McCarthy (2010, 2011, 2012 & 2013 State Champion and 2011 National Champion)
Belen Jesuit
Coral Gables (1960 State Champion)
Coral Glades
Coral Springs
Cypress Bay
Flanagan (2005, 2006 & 2010 State Champion & 2010 National Champion)
Fort Lauderdale (1947 State Champion)
Hialeah Educational Academy
Hialeah Gardens
Keys Gate Charter
Mater Academy (2014 State Champion)
Mater Lakes Academy
Miami Brito (1996, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2006 & 2014 State Champion)
Miami Sunset
Monsignor Pace (1978, 1980, 1981, 1985, 1988 & 2006 State Champion)
North Broward Prep
Pine Crest
SLAM Academy
South Miami (2000 State Champion)
South Plantation
St. Brendan (1983 State Champion)
TERRA Institute
West Broward
Westminster Academy (1999 & 2000 State Champion)

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