It might have been the first of four possible encounters between two of the nation’s best baseball teams.
But four-time defending state champion Archbishop McCarthy sent a message Friday night to its new district rival, Plantation American Heritage, with a 5-0 victory over the visiting Patriots at the Mavericks’ home field.
Archbishop McCarthy (9-1), ranked ninth nationally by MaxPreps, will play American Heritage (7-1), ranked third by MaxPreps, again on March 21 at Heritage, and they could meet again in both the District 16-5A and Region 4-5A playoffs.
“We told the kids there was a lot of hype with this being the first game,” Archbishop McCarthy coach Rich Bielski said. “We need to keep in mind that it’s a long season and Heritage is a great team and very talented. We expect a great game every time we play them.”
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Senior Brian Gonzalez led McCarthy pitching with five scoreless innings and nine strikeouts, giving up two hits, one walk and one hit batsmen.
“I finally got my fastball command going,” Gonzalez said. “I was spotting the ball good in and out, and we had a good scouting report on them.”
Gonzalez, a University of Miami signee, also made a key defensive play in the top of the fourth inning when he picked off Heritage’s Dallas Perez between second and third and ran him down for the out after the Patriots had put runners on first and second with one out.
“To get out here and make a statement was important because this is a huge game,” Gonzalez said. “I know Dallas since I’ve been playing with him in travel ball.
“I know he’s aggressive, so I know if I played it well I could get him or at least force him back to second. I did a [Justin] Verlander move, and it worked.”
Although the Mavericks only mustered four hits, two of the most important ones came off the bat of senior shortstop Eddie Silva. With the wind carrying well to left field, Silva got a hold of a pitch from Heritage starter Louis Beck and drove it in that direction and over the fence for a solo home run in the first inning to give McCarthy a 1-0 lead.
Silva hit another in almost the same spot to cap a four-run fifth inning that put McCarthy in complete control of the game.
Silva, who had a three-home run game against Cardinal Gibbons earlier this season, has five home runs so far.
“On both [home runs], they gave me an inside pitch, and I just tried to get the barrel on it,” Silva said. “It was good because it gave us enough with the big dog Brian on the mound pitching for us.”
McCarthy opened the scoring in the fifth by taking advantage of a throwing error by Heritage catcher Justin Lamazares, who overthrew first base after fielding a great bunt by Mavericks catcher Ryan Sinzenich. First baseman Alex Toral, who had walked to start the inning, scored on the play.
Left fielder Dylan Bautista gave McCarthy a 3-0 lead with a double to center on the next at-bat. Center fielder Michael Gigliotti hit a high chopper over first base to drive in another run two at-bats later.
AH 000 000 0 – 0 3 1
AM 100 040 x – 5 4 1
WP: Brian Gonzalez. LP: Louis Beck.