Being eliminated in its first district playoff game would have made for a disappointing finish to the Coral Gables baseball team’s season.
The Cavaliers mustered enough heroics in the bottom of the sixth inning Wednesdayafternoon to avoid such a fate.
Coral Gables scored three runs in the inning to complete a 5-3 comeback win against Braddock in a District 15-8A semifinal at Southwest High. The victory moved Gables (18-7) into the district championship game against top-seed Columbus (21-5) Friday at 7 p.m. and clinched the Cavaliers a berth in the regional playoffs for the fifth consecutive season. Columbus defeated Coral Park 9-2 in the following district semifinal.
“I give credit to our kids for not quitting the entire way and fighting through it,” Gables coach Phillip Wisser said. “It’s a huge win for us because jumping to this district that has so much power for us to keep our streak going of making it to regionals is big.”
Facing a 1-2 count with two outs and runners on first and second, Gables reserve outfielder Anthony Valdes, who entered after starting right fielder Ryan Maya was hit by a pitch in the face earlier in the game, hit a single to left field.
Wisser sent lead runner Carlos Perez home on the play. The throw from the outfield to Braddock third baseman Ivan Nunez had plenty of time to get Perez, but the relay throw was high and wide allowing Perez to score and tie the game at 3.
On the next at-bat, left fielder and leadoff hitter Raymond Gonzalez singled to right field scoring two more runs and giving Gables the lead for good.
“[Valdes] has been a scrappy kid for us all year and he got the big hit,” Wisser said. “With two outs, I had to send [Perez] home. The guys in my dugout probably thought I was crazy, but in that situation you don’t know when the hits may come again so you have to make something happen.”
Braddock pitcher Orlando Ribalta, who had only pitched 11 innings this season, kept Gables in check for the most part prior to the sixth, allowing only two runs and striking out nine batters.
Braddock (14-8) gave Ribalta some early run support scoring a run in the first and adding two more in the third on a two-run single by Nunez.
But Gables answered with a run in the bottom half of the inning on an RBI single by catcher Elih Marrero, and later with a solo home run by center fielder German Reyes.
BR 102 000 0 – 3 4 0
CG 001 103 x – 5 6 1
But with the season on the line, the Patriots scored in the seventh and eighth innings with Brandon Chinea plating the winner for a walk-off victory at Florida Christian.
Florida Christian (19-7) will host St. Brendan in the district final Friday at 7 p.m.
“What can I say, we’re just blessed,” Florida Christian coach Chris Brigman said. “That’s the best 8-18 team around and we knew they were much better than that record showed. I’m proud of the way our kids battled back.”
With Chinea representing the winning run at third, he darted for home when a ball got away from the Pace catcher, but got caught in a run down when he threw to third. The throw back to home was wide of the plate allowing Chinea to score.
Chinea led off the inning with a single and was moved to third on a bunt and a fly ball out.
Pace (8-19) led 5-4 going into the seventh before Florida Christian loaded the bases with one out. Seve Rodriguez hit a chopper to third for a fielder’s choice out, but Chris Gandara scored to tie the game at 5.
After the Patriots took a 2-0 lead in the first, the Spartans came back to tie the game four times before finally taking the lead in the sixth when Anthony Boix scored after a wild throw on a failed pickoff attempt to first base by pitcher Alex Valverde. Boix led off the inning with a single and also had a double earlier in the game.
Valverde pitched all eight innings for Florida Christian finishing with nine strikeouts and allowing only one earned run as each team committed four errors.
MP 021 101 00 – 5 7 4
FC 211 000 11 – 6 9 4
PT 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 — 4 8 2
AC 0 2 0 2 0 1 X — 5 8 0
MC 1 0 7 2 1 0 — 11 10
CC 0 0 0 1 0 0 — 1 3
HIA 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 — 2 6 3
MIA 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 — 3 10 2
MB 0 0 1 5 2 0 0 — 8 12 3
HG 4 1 0 0 1 0 0 — 6 9 2
TRACK AND FIELD