Westminster Christian’s baseball team waited a year for a chance to exact payback on Mater Lakes.
Led by a solid start from sophomore John Gonzalez and a collective effort at the plate, the Warriors got what they wanted defeating the host Bears 11-6 on Friday afternoon in a Region 4-3A quarterfinal at Florida Memorial University.
Westminster Christian (17-8-1), which was eliminated in last year’s playoffs by Mater Lakes (18-8-1), advances to play either Dade Christian or Florida Christian Tuesday in the regional semifinals.
The Warriors took an 11-1 lead into the seventh inning and Gonzalez pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing one run on five hits and striking out four.
The Warriors capitalized on five errors overall by Mater Lakes. Westminster Christian suffered a potentially damaging injury in the inning when star shortstop Johnny Ruiz, the team’s top hitter this season, twisted his left ankle. Ruiz, a University of Miami signee, was helped to the dugout.
“[Gonzalez] is a gamer and he has that ‘it’ that some players have in sports,” Westminster Christian coach Emil Castellanos said. “As far as [Ruiz], that’s tough to see when your best player goes down like that. He’s a guy that’s really kept our tradition going this season.”
Gonzalez had another solid outing in his last start, but it ended in frustrating fashion.
Last week, Gonzalez had a perfect game going as the Warriors were leading 1-0 in the sixth inning in the District 16-3A final against Florida Christian when severe cramps forced Castellanos to take him out of the game. One batter later, Florida Christian homered to take the lead and eventually win the game.
“Things happen for a reason I guess, but we’d love to face them again,” Gonzalez said. “Today, I wanted to just come out throwing strikes and keep focused. I always pretend it’s a 0-0 game no matter what the score might be.”
Junior Cole Kreuter went 2 for 4 with three RBI and Julian Infante went 2 for 3 with an RBI to lead the Warriors, who broke through with two runs in the fourth off Mater Lakes starter Peter Llerena. After giving up two hits to start the inning, Llerena was removed for senior Kendrick Maqueira. The Bears catcher picked off pinch runner Ryan Terry at second for the first out. But Westminster loaded the bases on consecutive walks.
Luis Touron reached on a fielder’s choice that scored Gonzalez after a throw home was high giving Westminster a 3-0 lead. Infante hit a bloop single on the next at-bat to score a run and Kreuter doubled to increase the lead to 6-0.
“After we lost to them last year, I promised our seniors we would get it done this season for them,” said junior catcher Dakota Robbins said. “[Gonzalez] has been throwing plenty of strikes and looking great. All his pitches are working right now.”
WP: John Gonzalez (5-1). LP: Peter Llerena (6-2).
• Region 4-8A quarterfinal — Hialeah 5, Goleman 1: Led by a dominating performance by pitcher Nestor Cortes, Hialeah advanced to the regional semifinals after their win at Alex Fernandez Field.
Cortes gave up two hits and walked one, and striking out 11 Gators — including the side in the bottom of the seventh. Hialeah (19-7) will play at American High School on Tuesday at 4 p.m.
The T-Breds scored single runs in the first and second innings on a Jonathan Diaz two-out RBI single followed by a Cortes sac fly in the second that scored Alian Silva and that staked him to a 2-0 lead. Goleman’s only run came in the fourth and was unearned after Michael Barreneche led off the inning with a bunt that the third baseman threw into right field putting the runner at second where he eventually scored on a bunt single by Erick Delgado.
Hialeah broke open a close game with a three-run seventh thanks to a Cortes double, Mauricio Cajuso RBI single, Kevin Betancart walk, first base throwing error and RBI bunt single by Silva.
WP: N. Cortes. LP: J. Aguilar. Top performers: M. Cajuso 2-4, RBI; A. Silva 2-3.
• Region 4-8A quarterfinal — American 7, Coral Gables 1: A game that started bad for Coral Gables on Thursday and finished Friday didn’t get any better for the Cavaliers as American (19-8) cruised to the win.
The game was postponed in the bottom of the fourth Thursday with American up 7-1 and resumed early Friday afternoon. Ronnie Williams started for the Patriots on Thursday before William Penelas picked him up Friday and, they combined for four hits.
“Give a lot of credit to these kids,” said American coach Ricky Gutierrez. “What a crazy week with all of the weather problems that led to all of this stop-and-go baseball. For them to maintain their focus and play this well is really something.”
After Gables (14-11) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, the Patriots got seven unearned runs in the bottom of the second.
After Ronnie Williams and Kevin Peraza delivered one out singles, a quick comeback grounder to Gables pitcher Chris Viera by Kevin Williams for a 1-6-3 inning-ending double play but the throw went into center field.
By the time Steven Alvarez and Kevin Perez both followed with singles, Cabrera Edison walked and Gables committed two more errors in center field and at third base, American (17-8) had plated all of its runs.
WP: R. Williams. LP: C. Viera. Top performers: K. Perez 1-3, RBI.
• Region 4-4A quarterfinal — Pace 10, North Broward Prep 3: The Spartans (20-6-1) took an early lead in the first and never looked back as they beat the Eagles (14-15) at Monsignor Pace. The Spartans will host Coral Springs Charter Tuesday at 7 p.m. in regional semifinals.
Pace scored its first two runs on a double by Brandon Gomez. That was followed by a two-run home run by Anthony De La Cruz.
North Broward scored a run in each of the first three innings and trailed 4-3 in the third.
“I was seeing the ball good,” said Austin Miro, who had five RBI. Two of those came on a double in the sixth.
“We are one game closer to what we want and we have been looking forward to this since last year,” Miro said.
WP: Jonathan Hernandez (6-2). LP: Mike Surdis (3-1). Top performers: Miro 3-4, triple, double, 5 RBI. Gomez 2-3, double, 2 RBI. De La Cruz 1-4, HR.