The Mater Academy baseball team has always been talented, but that talent has never translated into a deep postseason run.
Last season was indicative of its travails when the heavily favored Lions — who had Albert Almora, now in the Chicago Cubs organization as the No. 6 overall pick in last year’s MLB Draft — were upset and eliminated by Hialeah-Miami Lakes in a district semifinal.
If this is the season the Lions (23-3) finally get over the hump, they got off to a good start Monday afternoon.
Behind five innings of one-run baseball from junior starting pitcher Mike Mediavilla and an eight-run fourth inning, Mater beat Westland Hialeah with a 12-2 six-inning, mercy-rule win in the District 16-6A semifinals at Belen Jesuit.
The victory clinches a spot in regionals for the Lions as the top two teams from each district advance to the next round.
The Lions will also play for the district title Thursday against the winner of the Belen-Hialeah-Miami Lakes game Tuesday.
“I think the guys came prepared,” Mater coach Eddie Gorriz said. “They made sure not to overlook [Westland]. It’s baseball, so if they make plays, hit the ball and their pitcher has a great day, they’ll beat anybody.”
It was a different story for the Lions from last season where Gorriz feels overlooking their opponent was his team’s ultimate detriment.
“I don’t think we were focused on the game,” he said. “I think we were focused on the following game, the district championship. I take the blame for that. I don’t think we were ready.”
Mediavilla gave up a run off three hits in the top of the first inning but cruised from that point on, shutting out the Wildcats (10-11) in each of his next four innings and allowing just one more hit. He struck out six in his outing.
“In the first inning it was just leaving pitches kind of high, and I just had to adjust and leave pitches low after that,” said Mediavilla, a University of recruit who may come on in relief in the district final after throwing just 71 pitches. “Every pitch was working. Just the changeup was a little off, but it was working after the first inning.”
Mediavilla could have pitched beyond the fifth, but Gorriz had the luxury of being able to take him out with the win already intact.
What looked like it would be a pitcher’s duel between Mediavilla and Westland starter Javier Gonzalez became a blowout when Mater batted around the lineup in the fourth for eight runs.
First baseman Angel Ortiz, shortstop David Silva and designated hitter Chris Cabrera had run-scoring hits — Cabrera’s a double. Then left fielder Danny Reyes scored two more with a single that set up the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back — Lions catcher and No. 3 hitter Kevin Abraham hit a three-run homer to left field that gave Mater an 8-1 advantage.
“Usually, we come in late [offensively],” said Mediavilla, who also hit fourth in the Lions order and went 1 for 2 with two runs, a walk and a hit by pitch. “I always have confidence in them. This whole season we’ve come up clutch when we needed it.
“I didn’t mind for a pitcher’s duel. I just needed a couple of runs, and I got it. We got a comfortable lead.”
Added Gorriz: “We were hitting the ball hard off [Gonzalez], but they were just making plays. Then we strung together a couple of hits.”
Ortiz finished 2 for 4 with four RBI after he then had a bases-clearing double to left-center in the sixth inning that put the Lions one run away from sealing the mercy-rule win.
He ultimately came around to score on a double by Silva, who went 3 for 4 with two RBI.
For Westland, catcher Luis Corrales hit a solo home run in the top of the sixth.
Wildcats second baseman and leadoff man Frankie Morejon was able to get two hits off Mediavilla. His first enabled him to score the game’s first run.
District 16-6A semifinal — Mater Academy 12, Westland Hialeah 2 (6)
WP: Mike Mediavilla. LP: Javier Gonzalez. Top performers: Mediavilla 5 IP, ER, 4 H, 6 K, BB; 1-2, BB, HBP, 2 R. Kevin Abraham (MA) 1-3, 3-R HR, HBP, SB. Angel Ortiz (MA) 2-4, 4 RBI, 2 R. David Silva (MA) 3-4, double, 2 RBI, R. Willie Abreu (MA) 1-3, 2 SB, R, BB. Luis Corrales (WES) 2-3, HR. Frankie Morejon (WES) 2-3, R. MA 23-3. WES 10-11.
District 16-8A semifinal — South Dade 8, Varela 3
WP: Adam Roush. Top performers: Roush 9 K, 2 H, 6 IP; 2 H offensively. Eric Manoah 2 H. D. Vaughan 2 H.
Late Thursday — Gulliver 8, Ransom 0
WP: Gaby Quevedo (1-0). Top performers: Alex Campo 2-3, 2 RBI. Kris Izquierdo 2-3, RBI, 2 R. Nicky Acosta 1-3, double, RBI.
• Hialeah-Miami Lakes d. North Miami 25-15, 25-14, 25-2: Dennis Perez 19 assists, 26 points, 6 aces. Gus Pena 5 kills, 9 digs. Manny Celestino 7 kills, 2 blocks. HML 11-5.
• Mourning d. Mater Academy 25-15, 25-18, 25-14: Werner Sabban 8 kills, 2 aces, block. Matheus Mera 7 kills, 7 aces, 4 blocks, 22 assists. Daniel Barrera 7 kills, 3 aces, block, assist. ATM 15-5.
• Florida Christian d. Lake Worth Trinity Christian 25-20, 25-22, 26-24: Michael Perez 13 kills, 14 points, 6 digs. Daniel Carp 10 points, 14 digs. Nick Tejedor 24 assists. FC 15-8.
• District 31 semifinal — Mater Academy 27, Somerset 7: Alondra Angulo 308 passing yards, 3 TDs, 2 extra points; INT defensively. Elexus Martin 100 receiving yards, TD, extra point; 4 sacks. Silvia Diaz 70 receiving yards, TD; 2 INTs, 1 ret. for TD. MA 9-2.
District 13-8A semifinals at Westland Gardens Park: Hialeah Gardens vs. Hialeah, 4; Krop vs. American, 7
District 14-8A semifinals at Flamingo Park: Reagan vs. Goleman, 4; Miami Springs vs. Coral Gables, 7
District 15-8A quarterfinals at Columbus: Sunset vs. Braddock, 3:30; Southwest vs. South Miami, 6:30
District 16-8A semifinal at Varela: Killian vs. Southridge, 4
District 16-6A semifinal: Hialeah-Miami Lakes at Belen, 3:30
District 14-4A final: Jackson-Carroll winner at Monsignor Pace, 7
District 15-4A semifinals at St. Thomas University: Doral vs. TERRA, 4; Ransom Everglades vs. La Salle, 7
District 15-3A semifinal at Dade Christian: Mater Lakes vs. Miami Country Day, 4
District 16-3A semifinals at Florida Christian: Marathon vs. Westminster Christian, 4; Florida Christian vs. Palmer Trinity-Somerset Charter winner, 7
District 14-2A final at Milander: Champagnat Catholic vs. Mater East, 7
District 15-2A semifinal: Westwood Christian at Miami Christian, 3:30
District 16-2A semifinal at Colonial Christian: Redland Christian vs. Island Christian, 4
GMAC championship at Coral Reef - Quarterfinals: Miami Springs vs. Southwest, 2; Sunset vs. Columbus, 2; Palmetto vs. Varela, 3:30; Coral Reef vs. Mourning, 3:30; Semifinals: 5; Final: 7
Westland Hialeah at Booker T., 3:30
Killian at Ferguson, 7:15
Hialeah at Mater Academy, 4
International Studies Charter at Miami Springs, 4
Pace at Westminster Christian, 7:15
St. Brendan at Westwood Christian, 4
BOYS’ WATER POLO
State play-in at Ransom Everglades: Miami Country Day vs. Belen, 6
State play-in: Mourning at Gulliver, 5
GIRLS’ WATER POLO
State play-in: Miami Country Day at Ransom, 4
State play-in: Mourning at Gulliver, 4
First round state play-in: Columbus at Tavernier Coral Shores, 7
District 31 final at Monsignor Pace: 7
District 15-8A semifinals at Columbus: Ferguson vs. Sunset-Braddock winner, 3:30; South Miami-Southwest winner vs. Columbus, 6:30
District 16-4A semifinals at Key West: St. Brendan vs. Tavernier Coral Shores, 5; Gulliver vs. Key West, 8
District 15-3A semifinal: Archbishop Curley at Dade Christian, 4
Region 4-3A quarterfinal at Palmetto Bay Park: Miami Country Day vs. Westminster Christian, 7
Region 4-3A quarterfinal: Florida Christian at Archbishop Curley, 7
TRACK AND FIELD
Region 4-4A at Traz Powell - Prelims: 1; Finals: 7
Region 4-3A at Archbishop McCarthy - Prelims: 1; Finals: 7