A year ago, Archbishop McCarthy lost its district final to American Heritage before proceeding to storm through the the back door with five consecutive victories and a state championship as a district runnerup.
On Wednesday afternoon, coach Rich Bielski and the Mavericks started down a similar road, one they hope ends in the same place.
After losing to Heritage in last week’s district title game, McCarthy had a much tougher draw this year and had to travel to Florida Memorial College to face GMAC champion Goleman in a Region 4-6A quarterfinal.
Only the nationally-ranked Mavericks, who are shooting for their sixth state title in the past seven years, made things look surprisingly easy as they had no trouble dispatching the Gators 11-1 in game ended after six innings.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
The win sets up – once again – a rematch with the host Patriots Tuesday night as Heritage defeated Miami Springs 10-0 Wednesday night. McCarthy won last year’s game 3-0 at Heritage.
“We knew coming in here today how good a team Goleman was so our kids were really focused and ready to go,” said Bielski. “They won the GMAC championship and we really figured we were going to have our hands full.”
Bielski didn’t have to sweat long as the Mavericks, after plating one run in the top of the first, blew the game open with a four-run second and 5-0 lead after an inning and a half, chasing starting pitcher Mario Lopez after just an inning and change as the Gators (25-4) wound up going through a half dozen pitchers on the day.
He was also rewarded for showing the confidence to throw a ninth grade pitcher on to the mound in the form of Yordani Carmona who retired nine of the first 11 Goleman batters en route to four innings of solid work before giving way to Johnny Leone and Joe Perez who finished up pitching one inning apiece.
“I just wanted to do my best to get the win for the guys because we knew the season would be over if we didn’t,” Carmona said.
“It’s great that coach [Bielski] had the confidence in me. He came to me and told me yesterday that he had total confidence in me and that really helped to hear that.”
Said Bielski: “The outcome today was because of that focus by all the kids starting with Yordani. For a freshman pitcher to come out and perform like that, like he’s been doing it all his life, that was impressive. I’m very proud of him.”
Leading 6-1 going to the fifth, McCarthy blew things wide open by scoring three more runs — a two-out, two-run double to right center by Perez being the big hit — and then polished off the overwhelmed Gators with two more in the sixth on a two-out, two-run double by Alex Carballo.
“When we played Heritage last week, we were tight and didn’t play well but today we came out real loose and it showed on the field when we jumped on them early,” said Perez, a South Florida commit who knows all about McCarthy’s regional win over Heritage a year ago because he was a member of that Patriots team which was eliminated.
“It’s crazy because I was on the receiving end of that last year so now I’m hoping it actually happens again because I’m on the other side of it.”
As far as who will be on the mound next week for McCarthy, Bielski wasn’t about to tip his hand.
But when asked about staff ace and University of Miami committ Daniel Federman — who has been out since the beginning of the season with arm issues — he did confirm that “he’s throwing again.”
“It was nothing serious, and we’re not even sure specifically what the issue was, but he has started throwing and we’re going to monitor the situation,” Bielski said. “He’s working hard, he’s throwing hard and hoping he’ll be able to throw down the road.”
▪ Region 4-9A quarterfinal — Columbus 5, South Dade 1: The defending state champion Explorers (18-9) put up four runs in the second to pull away from host South Dade (22-4) Wednesday night.
The Buccaneers entered the game ranked No. 19 in the nation by MaxPreps.
Andy Arguelles pitched a complete game for Columbus with seven strikeouts. The lone run Arguelles gave up came in the first when he hit a batter with the bases loaded.
“This just shows how much we want to win and get back to state,” Arguelles said. “The coaches put together a great game plan and all I had to do was throw strikes.”
Two of the four runs Columbus scored in the second were on a stand-up double by J.C. Carulla.
For the past two years the winner of the Columbus-South Dade regional matchup has gone on to win a state championship.
The Explorers will face Southwest in the semifinal Tuesday at 7.
▪ Region 4-9A quarterfinal — Southwest 8, Killian 2: Coach Jose Torres’ final season continues on as the Eagles, led by senior Jason Graña, moved on to the regional semifinals for the first time since 1999.
Graña (11-1) pitched a complete game and allowed five hits while striking out eight and walking two. Graña also led the Eagles at the plate, picking up three hits — including two doubles — and scoring three times.
“We really want to win for coach Torres,” Graña said. “I had an amazing day today.”
The key moment came in the fifth when Jorge Tejada led off and reached on an error leading to five runs in the inning. The Eagles will play host to South Dade or Columbus on Tuesday.
“After today's win,” Graña said, “we are really confident we can compete with anybody.”
▪ Region 4-9A quarterfinal — Coral Park 12, Hialeah 10: The Rams (19-8) rallied from a 9-2 deficit in the fourth inning to advance to Tuesday’s semifinal against Hialeah Gardens. Coral Park got things going with two runs in the bottom of the fourth before scoring eight runs in the fifth and sixth. With the 10 runs in those three innings, the Rams didn’t need the bottom of the seventh.
Alex Gato was 3 for 3 with a run, Erik Estevez was 3 for 4 with a pair of runs scored and two RBI, Bran Socorro drove in three runs and Manuel Montesino scored four.
▪ Region 4-7A quarterfinal — Pines Charter 4, Doral 3: Mason Feldman hit a home run and drove in three runs and Jorge Herrera had an RBI to lead the Jaguars (16-9) into the region semifinals. Daniel Rivero (7-3) went six innings and struck out 11.
▪ Region 4-7A quarterfinal — Belen Jesuit 8, South Broward 0: C.J. Vazquez hit a two-run shot followed by a solo home run from Christian Del Castillo as the Wolverines (17-11) scored three in the third inning and rolled past the visiting Bulldogs (13-14).
“I knew he was going fastball inside,” Vazquez said. “That’s what I’ve been working on in batting practice. He let one loose and I let it go. It was good because our first home runs against Pace also went back-to-back.”
Eric Wilson was 4 for 4 and stole four bases in the victory. Del Castillo was 3 for 4 and Alex Falla had a pair of hits including a home run. Pablo Arevalo struck out nine and gave up three hits in six innings of work.
“Ever since I was a sophomore and [Vazquez] was a freshman,” Arevalo said, “he’s always had my back.”
▪ Region 4-5A quarterfinal — Gulliver 12, Mater Lakes 0: Chase Sanguinetti went 2 for 3 with a pair of doubles and five RBI to lead the Raiders (20-5) into the region semifinals for the second consecutive year. Gulliver, which was a Class 4A state semifinalist last season, got a strong performance from Robert Touron (9-1), who went four of the five innings, giving up one hit. Javier Valdes was 3 for 4 with two doubles and three RBI.
Region 4-5A quarterfinal — Monsignor Pace 2, Key West 1: Whereever his stock is in the upcoming major league draft in June, it likely went up a little higher for Pace pitcher Chris Rodriguez Wednesday night. That’s because Rodriguez painted a masterpiece for the Spartans as he fired a complete game two-hitter and struck out 15 batters along the way as the host Spartans (24-4) moved on.
How dominant was Rodriguez? The senior struck out the final eight Key West batters to end the game including numbers three, four and five in the lineup in the last inning. Pace will host Gulliver, which mowed down Mater Lakes 12-0, in a regional semifinal next Tuesday.
“He’s a special kid who you just can’t say enought about,” Pace coach Tom Duffin said of his star pitcher. “And it came on a night where we really struggled offensively and needed every bit of what he gave us on the mound.”
After balking in a run in the top of the first, it looked like Rodriguez might be a tough loser as the Conchs and pitcher Hunter Matthessen nursed the 1-0 lead all the way in to the fifth inning.
But the Spartans rallied late, first tying the game in the fifth on back-to-back one-out doubles by Jonathan Reyes-Diaz and Bryan Diaz and then taking the lead in the last of the sixth.
After Jonathan Ledesma singled with two outs and pinch runner Nick San Marty stole second, Anthony Sanabria hit a routine ground ball to second base but Randy Garcia’s throw to first was in the dirt and when the ball scooted away from the first baseman, Sammarti sprinted home with the winning run.
“This was just a high-intensity game and I knew that I had to come through fo my teammates out there tonight,” said Rodriguez, who is commited to the University of Jacksonville but also projected to go in the first five rounds of the draft.
“Once we got the game tied up, I just found that zone in those last three innings and brought it home.”
Other scores — Region 4-9A: Hialeah Gardens 6, Miami High 5; Region 3-9A: Stoneman Douglas 10, Western 0; West Broward 6, Coral Springs 1; Region 4-8A: Westland Hialeah 1, Cooper City 0; Region 4-6A: American Heritage 10, Miami Springs 0; 4-5A: Pompano Beach 13, LaBelle 1; Somerset 14, Lincoln Park 0; 4-8A: Delray Beach Atlantic 10, Piper 3; Coral Glades 6, St. Thomas Aquinas 4.