Criticized in the past for its “lack of producing quality players,” Miami Springs Little League enjoyed a proud moment last week when perhaps you least expected it.
It came in a high school contest when the Miami Springs Golden Hawks hosted Mater Academy in a crucial Region 4-6A semifinal playoff game at Shelly Dunkel Field.
In the middle of a razor-tight contest in the fifth inning, two pitchers on each side replaced their respective starters and, for anyone who recalls just a couple of years back to Miami Springs Little League, it was quite a moment.
That’s because Dylan Carter came on for the Golden Hawks (of course Carter, just a sophomore, has been a stud in the Springs pitching stable all season) but on the other side for Mater, a young man named Kevin Fuentes entered the game.
“Sure, that’s Kevin from our Little League All-Star team a few years ago” said Carter when I asked him in the dugout between innings that that name sounded familiar to me.
And then another named popped up. Hitting number four in the lineup for Mater was another name that rang a bell – Danny Reyes.
“Yep, that’s Danny, he was there too,” said Carter with a tone of familiarity to his voice.
Fuentes, who lives in Virginia Gardens, wound up being the unsung hero of the day for the Lions when he came in and slammed the door on the Golden Hawks pitching three scoreless innings to close things out and record a save that advanced his team to its first-ever regional final.
“It was really cool. Me and Danny (Reyes), my best friend, we both grew up playing here and as soon as we got off the bus and stepped on the field, it was like ‘wow, we’re here’ ” said Fuentes, a junior. “I love Miami Springs and VG and it was really cool when Dylan and I were out on the mound at the same time. Obviously I wanted to come out on top and was glad we did but it was really a great moment for me to be able to contribute in such a big win in front of so many people I knew.”
“Obviously I wanted to beat him today but he wanted to win as well and that’s what it’s all about,” said Carter. “When the game is over, we trade fist pumps and it’s all good. We’re still friends and still root for each other.”
Reyes, who lives in Miami Springs and is also a junior, also played a big role on this day with a double, single and three RBIs.
“When I got here today, it was definitely a little emotional for me,” said Reyes. “This is my hometown and with a bunch of guys I know on the other side who I played ball with, I just really wanted to play well and find a way for us to win. Getting it done in front of so many people I know was really cool.”