Rey, Springs’ starting pitcher, struggled with his control, walking three batters in the last of the first to load the bases. But he struck out Jorge Padron to end the inning.
From there, Kendall’s Gonzalez settled down and would retire 10 of the next 11 Springs batters. Meanwhile, Rey continued to struggle with the strike zone, walking two more and that, combined with three Kendall hits, including a two-RBI double by Luis Mejia and a key two-out infield error, led to a big five-run second inning that Kendall up 5-3.
Eddie Vidal took the mound for Springs in the third but fared no better than Rey as Kendall plated four more runs on the strength of three hits, one walk and two errors in the field.
What had to be tough to watch from Gonzalez-Pino’s perspective was that perhaps his best pitcher, Regalado, spent the first three innings at third base while Rey and Vidal struggled. Cardoso II and Conindres Jr. had both thrown too many pitches in Friday night’s 4-1 semifinal win over Homestead and could not pitch.
When Vidal complained of an injury to start the fourth inning, finally Regalado went to the mound.
“My idea was to try and bring him in to close the game,” Gonzalez-Pino said.
Why not have him out on the mound in the first after Springs had taken that 3-0 lead?
“Listen, I don’t care what the situation is or what’s at stake,” Gonzalez-Pino said. “Nicholas spent all week in Myrtle Beach (Cal Ripken Camp in South Carolina) and had already thrown a lot of pitches before coming back to town. The one thing I’ll never do is put a young kid in a situation where he is throwing too many pitches in a short amount of time. Even though he certainly was eligible to throw the full 75 pitches allowed in a game, that was never going to happen. I would never risk that. Short work and few pitches was all he was ever going to get.”
Predictably, Regalado mowed down Kendall batters in the fourth, striking out the side. In the top of the fifth, Springs caught some life when Rey reached first with a one-out infield single, Colindres Jr. walked, Regalado reached on an error at shortstop, scoring Rey, and Cardoso II scored Colindres Jr. from third with a groundout to first base to make it 9-5.
But Kendall then reached Regalado with three hits in the last of the fifth to get those two runs back before Padron took to the mound for Kendall once Gonzalez had reached his maximum 75-pitch count and retired the final three Springs batters to wrap things up.
“I’m proud of all of my teammates and the way we played throughout the tournament,” said Regalado. “We got off to a great start today but just couldn’t finish it. It was a great run all the way through.”
The great run Regalado referred to was the minors’ perfect 4-0 record in the four-team round-robin North pool qualifying tournament where they outscored North Miami, Liberty City and North Miami Beach (twice) by a combined score of 54-12 and then followed that up with a terrific 4-1 win over Homestead last Friday night (July 5) at Prince Field in the District 8 semifinal.