The initial task is complete.
Entering as a solid favorite to win the north pool division of the District 8 Little League playoffs, the Miami Springs minors all-stars finished off the task on Tuesday night, July 2 when they knocked off North Miami Beach 9-6 at Prince Field to finish the round robin qualifier a perfect 4-0.
Now comes the much tougher task as the competition will wratchet up substantially. The perfect 4-0 mark puts the locals into the District 8 semifinal playoffs where they will host south pool runnerup Homestead this Friday night, July 5 at Prince Field beginning at 7 p.m.
The south pool, which consisted of two Kendall teams, Kendall 1 and Kendall 2, Homestead, Doral and Upper Keys and was played in Key Largo was considered a much deeper and talented division.
Liberty City rallied to knock off North Miami on Tuesday night to take the runnerup spot in the north pool and will now travel to Key Largo to take on south pool champion Kendall 1 on Friday night. The winners of both semifinal contests will meet in the District 8 championship game this Sunday, July 7 at 11 a.m. at Prince Field.
“I’m really proud of our kids for coming out and taking care of business and now we’re looking forward to the next challenge ahead on Friday as Homestead will be a tough opponent,” said minors head coach Robert Gonzalez-Pino. “We’ll be ready to go.”
Eddie Vidal was sure ready to go last week. On a team loaded with talented players, Vidal stepped up and made a name for himself on Thursday night, June 27.
With the minors all-stars looking to virtually clinch the No. 1 seed in the north pool hosting North Miami Beach at Prince Field, they did so in impressive fashion, routing NMB 17-0.
And on a night where there were plenty of hits and runs, Vidal stood out as he not only took to the mound as the team’s starting pitcher an fired a four-inning no-hitter, but also hit a towering home run deep over the left center field fence in the second inning.
“We measured it at 235 feet and I’ve been coaching at this level for awhile and that’s about as long a ball as I’ve ever seen hit,” said Gonzalez-Pino. “Eddie just had a great night out there both at the plate and on the mound.”
MAJORS FALL HARD IN OPENER
As much success as the Miami Springs minors all-star team has enjoyed, the Springs majors all-star team wasn’t quite so fortunate. That’s because the majors opened their District 8 division playoffs this past Monday night, July 1 and suffered a lopsided 17-3 loss to North Miami at Pepper Park in North Miami.
Not that head coach Eric Argote Sr. was looking for excuses but crazy scheduling changes including dates and sites wreaked havoc on his preparation.
“It was pretty crazy,” said Argote Sr. “We were literally in our cars ready to head down to Key Largo to play our game on Monday when my phone rang and we were told that the game had been switched to Pepper Park that night.”
With the initial setup being a north pool and south pool division just like the minors, one team being disqualified and another dropping out because of not enough players changed the landscape.
Doral was slated to compete in the south pool but was disqualified for carrying an illegal player. Liberty City was supposed to be just one of three teams along with Miami Springs and North Miami in the north pool but pulled out at the last second when they couldn’t find enough players to fill out a roster.
The end result left just four total teams in District 8, Springs, NM, Kendall and Upper Keys, thus junking the south pool/north pool setup and combining it into one division.
“Unfortunately it’s going to involve putting a few miles on our cars as the site will switch back and forth from Key Largo to Pepper Park,” said Argote Sr. who was greeted with the task of having to battled holiday weekend traffic as the majors were slated to take on Upper Keys down in Key Largo on Wednesday evening, July 3 followed by another trip to Key Largo to take on Kendall on Friday, July 5. “It is what it is and we’ll just deal with it and make the best of the situation.”
The majors will return to Pepper Park on Sunday, July 7 to take on North Miami at 11 a.m. before traveling back down to Key Largo on July 9 for another battle with Upper Keys and then finishing up their round robin six-game tournament on Thursday, July 11 against Kendall at Pepper Park.
The two teams that finish first and second will then meet in the District 8 championship game. If everything holds with no weather postponements, the title game will be played Saturday, July 13 at either Pepper Park or Key Largo depending on who makes the title game.