In a battle of district rivals in a non-district matchup, host Coral Springs Christian managed to minimize a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the first against Westminster Academy.
Later on, the Crusaders benefitted from a questionable fair call, resulting in key two-run double off Eric Hepple’s bat near the left field line to cap a four-run fourth inning en route to a 6-2 come-from-behind victory over the Lions during Senior Day on Saturday.
The victory avenged a 3-1 loss to Westminster earlier in the season as the teams attempt to find their stride for the District 14-3A playoffs in two weeks.
“I really don’t see it as revenge,” Crusaders coach Matt Cleveland said after watching his team improve to 15-5. “Our motto on the team is ‘Win for the day.’ I don’t want them to get satisfied, but stay focused [as the district playoff approaches].”
Westminster (16-4), on the other hand appeared poised for a big first inning against Hepple. The Crusaders’ righthanded starter hit leadoff batter Jeremy Viveros with a pitch, and walked Jeff Dudas to start the game.
The bases was loaded with one out, and Viveros and Dudas scored on a bases-loaded walk and a Thomas Messer sacrifice fly for a 2-0 Lions lead. It turned out to be all the runs Westminster would score for the entire game.
“Against a good arm like Hepple, you have to take advantage of a bases-loaded situation,” Westminster coach Nick James said. “Not being able push those runs in hurt us.”
CSC cut the lead to 2-1 on Chris Bec’s sacrifice fly to center, scoring Joey DePalo (leadoff single).
The Crusaders took the lead for good in the fourth. Touki Toussaint two-run single to left off reliever Franki Corridori (3-1) gave CSC a 3-2 lead. Hepple, the next batter, sliced a liner one that appeared to land about four inches foul from the left field line, a double that gave the home team a 5-2 lead.
“That was unfortunate,” said James, who came out of the bench to briefly discuss the call with the umpire. “But I’m not going to put the outcome of the game on that one call because we had other opportunities we didn’t cash in on.”
CSC added an insurance run in the sixth on a James Buckley RBI single before reliever Jeremiah Muhammad (three saves) got out of a two-out, bases-loaded trouble in the seventh when Lions’ catcher Sam Etter grounded out to second to end the game.
WP: Taylor (3-1), S: Muhammad (3) LP: Corridori (3-1).