Senior pitcher Erik Manoah’s steady performances have reflected the consistency of a South Dade baseball team that continued its hot start Saturday night.
Manoah struck out 12 batters, hit a two-run home run and held district rival Killian to only one hit in a 3-1 Bucs victory at South Dade.
From a fan breaking onto the field and running across the outfield wearing nothing but green shorts, to one of the starting pitchers getting ejected for hitting a batter, the district contest featured its share of intense and surreal moments.
But thanks largely to Manoah, the Bucs (9-0) remained Miami-Dade County’s only undefeated team through the first four weeks of the season.
“I haven’t seen anything like [that fan] in a high school game before,” Manoah said. “All the craziness made us have more fun and gave us a little more energy. Since the moment we woke up today, we felt we were supposed to win this game. We’re rolling right now and we don’t want it to stop.”
Manoah has been a huge part of the Bucs’ strong start as he picked up his fourth victory of the season, baffling Killian hitters for most of the game and bringing his strikeout total for the season to 42 with a 1.22 ERA.
“Erik is our leading hitter in the 3-hole, he pitches great,” South Dade coach Fred Burnside said. “I don’t even want to sit next to him in the dugout because I’m afraid I’ll mess him up. He had command of his breaking ball as well as his fastball. When he can do that, he’s very tough to beat.”
Manoah put South Dade ahead 2-0 in the bottom of the third inning when he roped a breaking ball from Killian starter Keith Stevens over the left field fence for a two-run home run — his fourth of the season.
South Dade added another run the following inning when Austin Allende lined an RBI single to left field. Jahzeel Clarit scored on the play, pinch running for Gabriel Cruz, who started the threat with a single of his own.
Killian (7-2) cut the deficit to 3-1 on Joey Gonzalez’s run-scoring single in the top of the fifth. But Manoah limited the damage by striking out Spencer Levine to end the inning.
In the bottom half of the inning, Killian lost Stevens when he was ejected by the home plate umpire for hitting Manoah with a pitch. The Cougars escaped the inning unscathed thanks to a great throw by centerfielder Sneaky Guzman and relay throw by second baseman Eddy Demurias to get Manoah out at the plate.
A fired up Manoah, however, retired the final six batters he faced in order striking out four.
“Coach tells us right now the more we keep things rolling the harder it is to stop it,” Manoah said. “We have to keep working on the little things in practice. We have a deep pitching staff and a good hitting club, but it’s the little things that will make the difference at the end.”
South Dade improved to 5-0 as it claimed sole possession of first place in District 16-8A ahead of Killian, which is 4-1 in district.
South Dade is scheduled to play its second and final regular season meeting with Killian April 1 at the Cougars’ home field at 3:30 p.m. The Bucs still have to play Southridge twice as well as one more game with the other four teams in their district.
"It’s still early and in this league, all the teams have given us fits," Burnside said. "We’ve had some breaks and in baseball the ball can bounce the other way real quick. But we’re ecstatic and the kids have been working hard for this."
KIL 000 001 0 – 1 1 2
SD 002 100 x – 3 6 1
WP: Erik Manoah (4-0). LP: Keith Stevens (2-1).