Archbishop McCarthy might have what looks like an inexperienced team heading to the state baseball semifinals next week, but no team in Florida knows winning more than these Mavericks.
Sure, the Mavericks list 15 juniors on their roster with only two seniors in their starting lineup. Yet most of those juniors were on last year’s team, the one that won its third consecutive title.
“Quite a few of these guys played for us as sophomores so even though they are juniors, they have experience,” coach Rich Bielski said.
“One year after another, the young kids watch the varsity players. They see the pileups after championships and that makes them hungry to be a part of all that.”
When McCarthy finally gets to play in its Class 6A semifinal Wednesday morning against Orlando Edgewater, the Mavericks will be trying to make history.
No high school team in Florida history has ever won four consecutive state titles.
McCarthy is currently tied with Rich Hofman’s Miami Westminster Christian teams from 1996-98 for most consecutive Florida titles.
“We don’t talk about it and just treat each year as our only year,” said Bielski, who also coached Hialeah High to state championships in 2001 and 2002 before a brief retirement from high school coaching.
“I treat the year like this is my senior year, my last year. I don’t care how many championships I have won, I’m going after it like I’ve never won one, with all my heart. I want to give them everything, every tool they need. It’s special every single year.”
Although Bielski said he doesn’t mention the history the Mavericks could make, his team is quite aware of it.
Junior pitcher Brian Gonzalez said after the Mavericks (24-5) lost to Somerset 5-1 in their regular season finale on April 17, he gathered the team together to talk about what had to be done: A seven-game winning streak to end the 2013 season, including games in the District 15-6A tournament, would bring yet another banner to the right-field fence.
Currently the Mavericks have their 2011 national championship banner (as so decreed by Baseball America, ESPN and USA Today) sandwiched between their 2010 and 2012 state championship banners.
“We know what’s at stake, we know what we want to do and accomplish,” said Gonzalez, committed to play at the University of Miami in 2015.
Bielski, who is in his 24th year as a math teacher at Hialeah, took over at Broward’s McCarthy in 2008 not long after former major leaguer (and Miami Pace and UM legend) Alex Fernandez took over as director of baseball operations at the school.
This past summer while attending a high school tournament in Fort Myers, Bielski walked around JetBlue Park — the spring home of the Red Sox which is a replica of Fenway Park in Boston — and took pictures “from just about every angle” and hung many of them in the Mavericks’ locker room.
With the state tournament moving from Port St. Lucie to Fort Myers, Bielski wanted to make sure his team could keep its focus in a new venue.
“We’re excited and the place looks really nice,” said junior infielder/pitcher Aaron Soto, a Tennessee commit. “We just need to keep looking at things one pitch at a time and everything will come together.”
The Mavericks haven’t played since beating Naples Gulf Coast 4-2 for the Region 4-6A title Friday.
By the time McCarthy plays its semifinal, it will have been 12 days between games. To stay sharp, the Mavericks have been taking batting practice, throwing bullpen sessions and playing simulated games.
Lynn Haven Mosely and Tampa King play in the other Class 6A semifinal Wednesday. The championship is scheduled for 7:35p.m. Thursday — the final game of Florida’s 2013 season.