American holds on for win in regional final


Special to The Miami Herald

All year long, American coach Ricky Gutierrez referred to reliever Andy Figueroa as “our money guy.”

And Saturday morning, Figueroa headed to the ATM machine again. Protecting a precarious one-run lead and six outs away from a berth in the state final four, Figueroa got the job done as American hung on to knock off host Sunset 4-3 in the Region 4-8A final.

The game was a completion of a contest postponed in the middle of the fifth Friday afternoon because of a lightning delay and the lack of lights at Sunset’s field.

The win sends American (21-8) to its second state final four (they lost to Flanagan in the state title game in 2010). The Patriots will square off against Plant City Durant on Friday at 10 a.m. at Jet Blue Park in Fort Myers.

“I knew when we were driving down here this morning that I had to find a way to get the ball in his hands,” Gutierrez said. “Andy is our money guy and dug down and got it done for us today.”

Figueroa inherited the 4-3 lead in the bottom of the sixth and worked his way out of a jam. With runners on first and second, he struck out Herbert Iser and picked off Danilo DeArmas.

With the tying run on base in the seventh, he struck out Michael Centeno and Alex Bravo, the latter on a nasty 0-2 outside breaking ball to end the contest and let the Patriots have the traditional dog pile celebration on the mound.

“I had him 0-2 and wanted to keep the ball out of the zone because he’s a great hitter,” Figueroa said of his last pitch. “It was my best pitch I threw in the last two innings.”

For Sunset (20-8), it was the end of a Cinderella run for a program that in its 30-year history had never won a district title or even a regional playoff game.

“It was a tough moment over there talking to them, especially those seniors,” said Sunset coach Mandy Pelaez, who completed his 14th year at the school. “I’m really proud of all of them as we really put Sunset baseball on the map this year.”

With the game tied at three Friday afternoon, American scored the decisive run in the top of the fifth when Kris Perez scored on a Sunset wild pitch.


WP: W. Penelas LP: D. Diaz. SV: A. Figueroa. Top performers: R. Gonzalez (AM) 2-4, R. Williams (AM) 1-2, 2 RBI. A. Bravo (SUN) 2-3, 2 RBI, M. Centeno (SUN) 1-4, RBI.


West Broward announced the hiring of three new coaches this week.

Eric Gudger, a former player at Penn State University, was hired as the Bobcats’ football coach. Gudger was a graduate assistant at West Virginia and an assistant coach at Clemson and Temple.

Corey Sarubbi was named the girls’ volleyball coach. Sarubbi previously coached at Coral Springs and Sagemont.

Shannon Bucker was hired as the cheerleading coach. Bucker has more than 14 years experience and has won numerous championships at all levels.


Former Miami Norland guard Cleon Roberts, who started all 32 games last season as a freshman at Georgia Southern, has transferred to La Salle University. Roberts was the 2012 Miami Herald Class 8A-6A Player of the Year and led the Vikings to a state championship his senior year.


Belen had three of its baseball players sign with colleges this week: pitcher/first baseman Willi Fabra with Manhattan, center fielder Alex Lorenzo with Loyola of New Orleans and catcher/first baseman Lucas Fernandez-Rocha with Swarthmore in Pennsylvania.

Read more Miami-Dade High Schools stories from the Miami Herald

  • Roundup

    Two Cooper City athletes sign with colleges

    Cooper City pitcher and first baseman Johnny Haney signed a scholarship with the Point Park University (Pittsburgh) baseball team. The left-hander is 6-0 so far this season with 31 strikeouts, three complete games and 1.28 ERA. He is hitting .317 with a homerun, 13 RBI and 16 runs scored.

  • High Schools roundup

    Doctors Charter boys’ track relay teams qualifiy for states

    The Dade Christian boys’ track 4x100 relay team will head to the State Championship for its second year in a row. Abigael Neus, Sam Mompremier, Jeanmaxon Adrien, and Cameron Floyd. Darwin Abreu qualified fourth overall in the mile. The 4x400 relay team, Torrian Wallace, Jovyn Pierre, Andrew Dodds, and Jonathan Gill needed to finish fourth out of 16 teams and run under a 3:42 to qualify for states. Freshman Jonathan Gill lead the team to a time of 3:36, awarding them fourth place to also qualify them for states.

  • State Tennis Championship

    Ransom Everglades’ Allegra Hanlon galls short of state title

    Everything seemed in place for Allegra Hanlon to end her high-school career with one more tennis championship. Then the rains came.

Get your Miami Heat Fan Gear!

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category