Anthony Vazquez pitched a complete game as Coral Park beat host Hialeah Gardens 2-0 in a Region 4-9A semifinal Tuesday afternoon.
The Rams (20-8), in regional play for the first time since 2007, will face the winner of Southwest and Columbus next Tuesday with a trip to state on the line. That game was rained out Tuesday and will be played Wednesday afternoon.
Vazquez, who threw seven straight balls to open his outing, settled down nicely by scattering five hits with two walks, a hit batter and seven strikeouts — including the side in the seventh. He retired the final seven batters in order.
Coral Park took a 1-0 lead in the first on Axel Gomez's RBI single to right against righty Carlos Alcon.
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Erwing Hernandez led off with a single up the middle and stole second to get into scoring position.
The Rams added an insurance run in the seventh on Emmanuel Montesino's RBI single with one out. Erik Estevez had singled a batter earlier, making it the first hit off Alcon, who went 6 1/3, since Gomez's first-inning swing.
After Estevez stole second, Montesino sent a pitch to left, where the fielder misplayed the ball and allowed him to reach third on a two-base error.
Hialeah Gardens (18-7) had at least once baserunner in each of the first five innings. Twice, the Gladiators had a chance of a big inning, but baserunning miscues proved costly.
In the second after back-to-back one-out singles, the lead runner was thrown out trying to advance to third on a ball in the dirt. In the fourth with runners at the corners, the man at first was caught straying too far off the bag and was out in a rundown.
Pinch-hitter Alex De La Torre gave Hialeah Gardens a nice chance at tying the game in the fifth with a one-out double down the first-base line. Following a popout and hit by pitch, pinch-hitter John Sosa struck out looking to end the threat.
"We've been coming back all year and in the postseason, and today we didn't have to," Coral Park coach Juan Carnicero said, "We jumped out to a lead, and I had faith in Anthony. I knew he was due for a good game. He's carried us all year, and he did it again today."
▪ Region 4-6A — Archbishop McCarthy 4, American Heritage 3: The defending state champion Mavericks played long ball against their rival and did the Patriots in once again Tuesday night.
Joe Perez, Alex Toral and Kobe Lopez each hit solo home runs for McCarthy and the Mavericks needed every one of them as Heritage put on a furious rally in the last of the seventh before hanging on.
For the second consecutive year, Heritage beat the Mavericks in the district final only to lose to McCarthy in the regional semifinal.
McCarthy led 4-1 and needed three more outs but, following a Kyle Carter one-out home run, Heritage’s Tristen Casas doubled to right center. After a grounout to second, Santiago Garavito walked and Jacob Pino hit a slow dribbler to shortstop for an infield single scoring Casas to make it a one run game and leave runners on first and second.
That’s when Perez, who had entered the game two hitters earlier in relief, bared down and struck out Anthony Boix on three pitches to end the game.
McCarthy, which is looking for its sixth state title in the last seven years, will travel north to either Port St. Lucie or Rockledge next week for a regional final. That was was rained out and will be played Wednesday night.
Following a Lopez double and subsequent score from third on a groundout, Perez homered in the first to stake the Mavericks to an early 2-0 lead. Toral homered in the third and Lopez the fifth to build the lead to 4-1.
“What a great game in an absolutely tremendous atmosphere tonight,” said McCarthy head coach Rich Bielski commenting on a huge crowd that lined both the left field and right field lines.
“We’ve got a lot of respect for Heritage and knew this would be a tough place to come in and win tonight so I’m proud of our kids for finding a way to come out on top. We did this last year (McCarthy has lost to Heritage in the district final both years only to come back and beat the Patriots in the regional semifinals) and came all the way around to win the state title so hopefully we can do it again.”
▪ Region 4-7A -- Belen Jesuit 3, Pines Charter 1 (9): The Wolverines scored twice in the ninth to top host Pines Charter at Flamingo Park. Belen (18-11) will play the winner of Martin County and Dwyer Tuesday with a trip to state on the line.
Jonathan Barditch, batting ninth, walked to lead off the ninth -- his third of the game and 10th issued by the Jaguars (16-10).
A fielding error by the first baseman put a pair of runners on for C.J. Vazquez, whose bunt forced right-hander Christopher Nappi to air-mail a throw, permitting the go-ahead run to score.
Andrew Hernandez added an insurance run with a sacrifice fly to left.
Albert Maury tossed 3 1/3 scoreless innings of relief for the win.
“We call him 'Wee-Willy Wilson' because we tell him to hit it where it ain't, so he listened,” Belen coach Jerry Albert said.
“He's the master of hitting it where they ain't. Just another addition of Wee-Willy. It's terrific. They're a beautiful group of kids. They've done everything we've asked them to. The spirit and enthusiasm and energy around the team is really fantastic.”
Julian Barcelo's two-out RBI single up the middle off starter Pablo Arevalo gave Pines Charter a 1-0 lead in the sixth.
Jorge Herrera had opened the frame with a single past a diving second baseman. When Herrera took a big lead following a pitch, catcher Hernandez's pickoff throw to first sailed into the outfield, allowing Herrera to advance to second. He moved to third on Mason Feldman's groundout to second.
With the infield in, Daniel Rivero flied out to shallow right and the runner didn't go with the throw on the line. Barcelo came through on a 2-2 pitch.
Down to their final strike in the seventh, the Wolverines tied the game at 1 on Rivero -- a UM commit -- when Eric Wilson blooped an RBI single.
It was just the second hit off Rivero, who struck out nine batters.
Mario Robaina started things with a walk. After consecutive strikeouts, Rivero walked his seventh batter of the game, putting two runners on for Wilson, who sent an 0-2 pitch into shallow left-center. Kyle Heim's throw home was high, allowing the runner to score from second.
Vazquez followed with a single up the middle, but Heim's throw beat the runner for the final out of the inning.
CHRISTINA De NICOLA
A handful of games were postponed Tuesday because of rain with two being played Wednesday and the 4-8A semifinal between Mater Academy and Westland Hialeah going on Thursday.
Region 4-9A semifinal: Columbus at Southwest, 4
Region 4-5A semifinal: Gulliver at Monsignor Pace, 4
Region 4-8A semifinal at Walker Park: Mater Academy v. Westland Hialeah, 7