Battling through a competitive district all season, pitcher Keith Stevens continually delivered efficient starts for Killian’s baseball team.
With the season on the line Tuesday afternoon, Stevens delivered again.
Killian’s sophomore ace gave up only one run on four hits and helped the Cougars defeat rival Southridge 5-1 in a District 16-8A semifinal at Varela High.
“Keith has been phenomenal from the beginning of the year and has had poise beyond his years,” Killian coach Angel Herrera said. “He’s had hard-luck losses all season. There’s no one else I would have trusted to throw in a game like this.”
The Cougars (18-8) clinched their fourth consecutive regional playoff appearance and will try to win their second consecutive district title Thursday at 4 p.m. when they face top-seeded South Dade at Varela. The Bucs beat Varela 8-3 on Monday.
Herrera said Stevens, who improved to 6-4 for the season, took a few close losses this season in low-scoring games.
On Tuesday, Killian didn’t take long to give Stevens run support, scoring twice in the top of the first on catcher Nick Mira’s RBI single and a sacrifice fly by Spencer Levine. Left fielder Gil Polanco, who went 2 for 2, hit a solo homer in the third to give Killian a 3-0 edge.
Southridge (11-10) broke through in the bottom of the sixth when left fielder Octavio Mirabal hit a line drive that got past Levine at first for a double scoring center fielder Christian Khawam. But Stevens got third baseman Jerrick Campbell to ground into a double play to end the threat.
Backup first baseman William Ortiz gave Killian a cushion with a pinch-hit, RBI triple to right-center. Ortiz drove in designated hitter Danny Cumba on the play and scored on the play after a throwing error by the cutoff man.
WP: Keith Stevens (6-4). LP: Dayron Moreno.
• District 13-4A quarterfinal — Pine Crest 11, Cardinal Gibbons 1: The game began Monday and remained scoreless through three innings until lightning cleared the field. When it resumed Tuesday, this time it was the crack of bats that lit up the field, and Pine Crest won 11-1 in six innings against Cardinal Gibbons in the District 13-4A quarterfinal at Broward College.
Senior Steven Goldberg, who will be pitching for Lehigh University in Pennsylvania next year, played an incredible game in which he pitched five innings, picked up three RBI, and moved to center field in the sixth where he caught a fly and threw to second for a game-ending double play.
The top of the fifth saw a seven-run rally off six hits by Pine Crest, including a Goldberg double that brought in two. Cardinal Gibbons’ run came in the bottom of the fifth off a single by David Pedraza.
Chandler Cissel went 3 for 3 with five RBI, Matt Rothenberg picked up the save and scored three runs, and Adam Saks scored twice and doubled in the final inning.
Pine Crest (15-9-1) will play Coral Springs Charter or Somerset in the semifinal. Gibbons ended the season 9-12.
WP: Steven Goldberg (6-2) 4K 5IP. LP: Chris Williams. Top performers: Chandler Cissel 3-3, 5 RBI, 3 singles, SB. Matt Rothenberg 2-4, 3 runs, RBI, double. Steven Goldberg 1-4, 3 RBI, double. Adam Saks 2-4, double, 2 runs.
• Boys’ first-round state play-in — St Thomas Aquinas 24, Riviera Beach Suncoast 13: For the first half, St. Thomas Aquinas faced a stiff test against Riviera Beach Suncoast in the boys’ water polo first round play-in game at Fort Lauderdale High School Aquatic Center on Tuesday.
Led by Bruce Espinoza’s five goals in the second half, the host Raiders trounced Suncoast. Espinoza had eight goals and Eric Goldenberg added seven goals for St. Thomas (21-1).
“Mentally, they were not ready,” St. Thomas coach Michael Goldenberg said. “That is not how we prepared them for this game.”
Suncoast (15-11) took advantage of the Raiders’ slow start as the Chargers jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first quarter. The Raiders rallied in the rest of the half as they took an 11-9 lead to halftime.
In the third quarter, the Raiders came out with improved pressure on the ball and forced the Chargers into turnovers.
“We never let them have one second of rest,” Espinoza said.
Espinoza scored three of the Raiders’ five goals in the quarter to extend the Raiders’ lead to 16-10.
St. Thomas outscored Suncoast 8-3 in the final quarter to seal the win.
The Raiders will face the winner of the Gulliver Prep vs. Mourning game in the state quarterfinals.
• Girls’ first-round state play-in — St Thomas Aquinas 12, Suncoast 9: In the girls’ match, St. Thomas (10-11) had few answers to contain Suncoast’s Maria Marquez as Suncoast (16-9) defeated the Raiders. Marquez led the Chargers with six goals.
Trailing 5-4 in the third quarter, the Raiders lost senior captain Carolina Vargas after she fouled out.
From that point, the Chargers focused its defense on containing the Raiders’ Anna–Smith Johnson and forcing turnovers.
Without Vargas, the Raiders struggled to score in the fourth quarter.
“I’m proud of my girls,” said St. Thomas coach Gary Besbris. “They played as tough as they could.”
DISTRICT 15-8A QUARTERFINAL — SUNSET 8, BRADDOCK 2
WP: Danny Diaz (8-1). Top performers: Alex Bravo 2-3, HR, 3 RBI. Herbert Iser 2-3, 2 RBI. Nico Machado 2-3. SUN 16-7
DISTRICT 15-4A SEMIFINAL — LASALLE 8, RANSOM EVERGLADES 4
WP: Anders Gutierrez (4-3). Top performers: Elier Rodriguez 3-3, double, triple, 2 runs, 2 RBI, SB. Francis Mijares 2-4, triple, 2 runs, RBI. Yordan Piedra 1-2, triple, 2 runs, SB
DISTRICT 16-3A SEMIFINAL — FLORIDA CHRISTIAN 7, PALMER TRINITY 0
WP: Alex Valverdere. Top performers: Milton Ramos 4-4, 2 RBI. Jack Diaz 2-2. Eric Montero 2-4, 2 RBI
DISTRICT 15-8A QUARTERFINAL — SOUTHWEST 7, SOUTH MIAMI 2
WP: Chris Mourelle (3-4) 6K. LP: Ernesto Romero. Top performers: Hernen Sardi HR, 2 RBI. Chris Mourelle RBI, double. Gaby Casals RBI, single. SW 13-9
DISTRICT 16-3A SEMIFINAL — WESTMINSTER CHRISTIAN 7, MARATHON 2
WP: Jake Zarello (6-1). Top performers: Johnny Ruiz 3-4, HR, double, 5 RBI. John Gonzalez 3-4, triple, double, RBI
DISTRICT 15-4A SEMIFINAL — TERRA 3, DORAL 1
WP: Alexis Valladares 6IP, 4K. LP: Davila. Top performers: Tyler Prichard save. Frankie Bartow 1-2, RBI. Jason Vila 1-3
DISTRICT 16-6A SEMIFINAL — BELEN 6, HIALEAH MIAMI LAKES 0
WP: Willie Fabra. LP: Morfi. Top performers: Alec Acosta 4-4, 2 HR, 4 RBI. Alex Lorenzo 2-3, Christian DelCastillo 2 for 3, RBI. Alex Cabrera 1-2, 2 runs. Pablo Cabrera 1-3, run. BEL 19-7
LATE MONDAY — DISTRICT 16-3A PLAY-IN — PALMER TRINITY 9, SOMERSET 1
WP: Ben Roberts (4-4). LP: Gabriel Cortes. Top performers: Justin Ziegelasch 2-3, 2 RBI, double. Dustin Philipp 2-3, run, 2 RBI. Iggy Pigna 1-4, 2 RBI, SB. PT 16-9.
• Palmetto d. Varela 25-18, 25-23: Kory Schulz 7 kills, 9 digs. Devin Decker 6 kills, 6 digs. Tarek Saade 19 assists, 5 kills, 6 digs.
• Hialeah Miami Lakes d. Braddock 21-25, 25-21, 25-16, 25-23: Dennis Perez 4 kills, 39 assists, 15 digs, 6 blocks. Gus Pena 17 kills, 16 digs, 5 blocks. Manny Celestino 13 kills, 3 blocks. HML 12-5
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
Braddock at Florida Christian, 7:15
District 13-8A final at Westland Gardens Park: 7
District 14-8A final at Flamingo Park: 7
District 16-8A final at Varela: South Dade vs. Southridge-Killian winner, 4
District 16-6A final at Belen: Mater Academy vs. Belen-HML winner, 3:30
District 14-4A final: Jackson-Carroll winner at Monsignor Pace, 7
District 15-4A final at St. Thomas University: 7
District 16-4A final at Key West: 7
District 15-3A final at Dade Christian: 4
District 16-3A final at Florida Christian: 7
District 15-2A final at Miami Christian: Brito vs. Westwood Christian-Miami Christian winner, 3:30
Region 4-8A quarterfinal: Lourdes at Coral Reef, 4
Region 4-8A quarterfinal at Palmetto Bay Park: Southwest vs. Palmetto, 4
Region 4-8A quarterfinal: Coral Gables at American, 4
Region 4-8A quarterfinal: Hialeah Gardens at Goleman, 4
Region 4-6A quarterfinal at Bucky Dent Park: Archbishop McCarthy vs. Mater Academy, 7
Region 4-6A quarterfinal at Archbishop McCarthy: Westland Hialeah vs. Pines Charter, 7
Region 4-4A quarterfinal: TERRA at Gulliver, 4
Region 4-4A quarterfinal: Key West at Doral, 7
Region 4-4A quarterfinal: North Broward Prep at Monsignor Pace, 7
Region 4-4A quarterfinal at Betti Stradling: Archbishop Carroll vs. Coral Springs Charter, 4
Region 4-2A quarterfinal at Miami Christian: Zion Lutheran vs. Greater Miami Academy, 4
Region 4-2A quarterfinal: Colonial Christian at Princeton Christian, 4
Region 4-2A quarterfinal at Founders Park: Westwood Christian at Island Christian, 4
Coral Reef at Florida Christian, 7:15
Westland Hialeah at Hialeah-Miami Lakes, 3:30
Hialeah at Killian, 5
Mater Academy at Pace, 5
Coral Park at Varela, 7:15