The Goleman baseball team entered this week’s GMAC tournament tied for the best overall record in Miami-Dade County.
Still, many around town questioned its legitimacy.
That might not be the case for much longer.
Sparked by a solid pitching performance from senior lefty Mario Lopez, the Gators blanked Columbus 3-0 Tuesday in a GMAC semifinal at Southwest High to improve to 22-2 for the season.
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The Gators, who lead District 16-6A going into next week’s playoffs, snapped Columbus’ two-year streak of Columbus making the finals, taking the lead in the fourth and plating two more in the sixth.
“We needed wins like this because we haven’t gotten the recognition we need as a team,” Goleman coach Jose Lopez said. “It really builds up our confidence to win a game like this, and it says a lot to the people that still don’t believe we are a good team.”
Goleman will take on Westland Hialeah on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Southwest.
The Wildcats (16-8) advanced to their first GMAC final with a 5-0 win over Southwest in the later semifinal.
Winning the school’s first GMAC title since 2003 and third ever would earn the Gators even more believers.
Lopez struck out four and walked only two, allowing four hits in the victory.
The Gators had only one base runner through the first three innings.
Goleman led off the fourth by loading the bases on Columbus starter Jesus Machado when Thomas Hernandez singled, Ramid Alvarez was hit by a pitch and Brandon Paez executed a perfect bunt single.
Machado limited the damage-inducing Kevin Perez to ground into a double play, but Hernandez scored to give the Gators a 1-0 lead.
Goleman loaded the bases again in the sixth and did more damage when Machado walked Juan Lugo and threw a wild pitch that allowed Paez to score.
“Our pitching staff is fresh right now, and we’ve been conditioning for the whole season,” Lopez said. “Usually, pitchers get tired this time of year, but they’re doing a great job.”
▪ GMAC semifinal — Westland Hialeah 5, Southwest 0: The Wildcats scored two runs in the fifth and sixth innings to put the game out of reach.
Sophomore George Aguilera pitched six shutout innings, allowing four hits and striking out four.
Junior David Vasquez closed out the seventh with two strikeouts.
Sophomore Evander Hernandez hit a two-run double in the fifth inning.
Senior Brian Lavastida drove in a run with a single in the sixth and came around to score on a throwing error.
COL 000 000 0 – 0 4 0
GOL 000 102 x – 3 6 1
WP: Mario Lopez (4-0). LP: Jesus Machado (4-2).
SW 000 000 0 – 0 4 3
WH 100 022 x – 5 8 0
WP: George Aguilera (4-3). LP: Enrique Aparicio (0-1).