As much success as the Miami Springs minors all-star team enjoyed with their run to the District 8 championship game, the Springs majors all-stars were not quite so fortunate. In fact, they got to find out “how the other half lives.”
Last Thursday night (July 11), they wrapped up their six-game round-robin tournament in the District 8 playoffs and found themselves on the wrong side of a 20-1 loss to Kendall.
The Springs kids not only didn’t win once, finishing 0-6, but they never really came that close in any contest. By contrast, Kendall was the LeBron James of District 8, going 6-0 and winning all but one game by the 10-run mercy rule.
But in the truest sense that it’s not necessarily all about winning and success on the field, the performance of the Springs majors stars was truly inspiring.
“I can’t be more proud of them,” majors head coach Eric Argote Sr. said. “Usually when something like this happens, kids tend to quit and not bother showing up, but that wasn’t the case here. That’s a credit to not only the kids but their parents as well. Teaching kids not to quit and keep going no matter what can be a valuable lesson in life down the road.”
The never-give-up attitude was evident in the very last inning of the Kendall game. Trailing 20-0, the Springs all-stars still scrapped across a run when Jacob Segurola scored off an infield single with two outs and the way the Springs dugout erupted, one might have thought they had won the title.
With the scoreboard only able to put runs up to 19, it went back to zero when Kendall got its 20th run.
As a result, when it was over, the scoreboard read that Springs had won 1-0.
“Hey look at that, Coach, we won,” one of the kids quippped as the others joined in.
Despite all of the lopsided losses, kids joked and parents sat in the stands and showed their support.
That’s what Little League competition should be all about.
“I didn’t come into this with any false illusions,” Argote Sr. said. “We only had three kids who were 12 years old and only one, my son (Eric Argote Jr.), had any kind of all-star experience. I guess I’m kind of jealous as I was talking to the Kendall coach and he told me he had a pool of 150 kids to pick from to put a team together. Then here I am trying to scrape nine kids together to put a team on the field.”
Not that he was looking for any excuses, but crazy scheduling changes, including dates and sites, wreaked havoc on his preparation to begin the tournament and certainly did not help the situation.
“It was pretty crazy,” Argote Sr. said. “We were literally in our cars ready to head down to Key Largo to play our first game against Upper Keys (on July 1) 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, North Miami, Kendall and Upper Keys — thus junking the South pool/North pool setup and combining it into one division.
“Unfortunately, it involved putting a few miles on our cars as the sites switched back and forth from Key Largo to Pepper Park,” Argote Sr. said. “We just dealt with it and made the best of the situation.”
Following a 17-3 loss to North Miami to open the tournament, back-to-back trips to Key Largo resulted in a pair of 10-0 losses to Upper Keys and Key Largo.
On Sunday, July 7, the Springs all-stars took on North Miami again at Pepper Park and, even though they would go on to lose 11-1, that game turned out to be their best shot at securing a win.
“Our most competitive game for sure,” Argote Sr. said. “We hung in there and were down just 2-1 after four innings and thought we had a chance.”
But then North Miami struck for nine runs in the fifth to end the game on the 10-run mercy rule.
One last trip to the Keys resulted in another 10-0 loss to Upper Keys on July 9 before the Springs all-stars wrapped up their tournament play two days later against Kendall.
Not only did the Springs majors plate just five runs, they managed only 12 hits in the six games. Argote Jr. was the standout as he had five of the 12 hits and three RBI.
“It was a challenge for us to keep the kids positive and playing hard,” said Argote Sr., referring not only to him but his assistant coaches, Dennis Whitlock and Steve Espinosa. “I told the kids when it was over that they will learn from this down the road and be better for it. What’s also good is that the core of the team will stay together and hopefully get a few of those kids from the minors team moving up to form a really nice team next year.”