No Miami Springs Little League historians were handy to track down after the game, but suffice it to say it has been a very long time since the Miami Springs Little League Minors All-Star team has found themselves in the District 8 championship game – if ever.
That became a reality this past Friday night, July 5 when the Springs minors all-stars took the field against Homestead in a District 8 semifinal contest at Prince Field and came away with a 4-1 victory.
Springs will now take on heavy favorite Kendall #1 on Sunday morning, July 7 at 11 a.m. at Prince Field. The winner will advance to the regional final on July 13.
Kendall 1, (Kendall had two teams, #1 and #2) the No. 1 seed out of the south pool played host to north pool runnerup Liberty City on Friday night in the other semifinal down in Key Largo and mowed down LC 15-5 in a five-inning mercy rule contest.
“We understand Kendall will be a challenge for us but we’ll be ready,” said minors head coach Robert Gonzalez-Pino. “If anything, all of the pressure will be on them (Kendall) because they will be the favorites and for good reason. They’ve been in these games before and have done it in the past.”
It looked like Gonzalez-Pino and his kids would have an easy night the way the game started as Springs jumped all over Homestead starter Michael Ogden by plating four runs in the bottom of the first.
But, when Jake Ogden came in to replace his brother on the mound with Springs still batting in the first, things changed as the MS bats, which put up 54 runs in four games during the north pool round robin qualifying tournament, would go silent the rest of the night.
Making matters even more shaky was that Springs starting pitcher Javier Cardoso II and Oscar Colindres Jr. who replaced him in the fourth, both struggled with their control.
Even though Homestead would never record a hit all night, Cardoso II and Colindres Jr. issued a combined nine walks over five innings allowing Homestead to load the bases in the fourth and fifth and put runners on second and third in the second.
Finally, Colindres Jr. issued a two-out bases-loaded walk to Jakobe Lathan, the No. 9 hitter in the lineup, in the top of the fourth to make it 4-1. Leadoff hitter Jake Ogden came up and hit a shot right back to Colindres Jr. on the mound. After it glanced off his glove, he calmly picked the ball up and just barely got Ogden at first to end the inning.
Again Colindres Jr. walked three batters in the fifth, the second and third after there were two outs, to load the bases before striking out Joel Blanco to end the inning.
Carlos Rey then came in to try and record the final three outs in the sixth for Springs, but not before he put runners on first and second with two more walks. He managed to strike out Homestead’s No. 3 hitter Trevor Hancock, who represented the tying run, to end the game and put Springs into the title game.
“Our pitchers definitely struggled with their control tonight but our defense came through with some key plays when needed and we found a way to come out on top,” said Gonzalez-Pino. “And our bats which are usually pretty active struggled a little bit as well. But overall I can’t be more proud of the kids for doing what they’re doing and now we want to take it one step further on Sunday.”