Broward High Schools

Behind solid pitching, McArthur baseball wins first regional game in 16 years

McArthur baseball coach Oddibe McDowell (left) speaks to his team following the Mustangs 5-0 victory over Mater Academy in a Class 8A Regional Quarterfinal game on Thursday at McArthur High.
McArthur baseball coach Oddibe McDowell (left) speaks to his team following the Mustangs 5-0 victory over Mater Academy in a Class 8A Regional Quarterfinal game on Thursday at McArthur High. For the Miami Herald

Waiting an extra day was worth it.

A day after rain and lightning postponed their Class 8A regional quarterfinal against Mater Academy, the McArthur baseball team posted a 5-0 victory at home on Thursday — snapping a 16-year drought and giving the Mustangs just their second regional baseball victory in school history.

Senior right-handed pitcher George Hernandez was solid on the mound, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out nine to lead the Mustangs to their first regional playoff victory since 2003.

McArthur (15-6) will host Nova, a 3-0 winner on Wednesday over Westland Hialeah, in a regional semifinal game on Saturday at 1 p.m.

The Mustangs, who have won seven of their last eight games, are 1-2 against Nova this season, winning the District 15-8A championship game 7-3 in 14 innings.

“Pitching and defense is a good thing to have,” said McArthur coach Oddibe McDowell. “George went out there and threw a hell of a ball game. We scored some runs for him, but he threw a great game.”

Hernandez allowed his only hit, a single to right field from Mater Academy (12-12) catcher Boris Pena, to lead off the top of the seventh inning. He would allow only one batter over the limit.

“I was comfortable, felt good and was conserving my pitches,” said Hernandez. “When I got the run support in the first inning, it allowed me to stay comfortable. This is amazing because we talked about at the beginning of the school year. This was our goal and we’re one step closer to state.”

Hernandez struck out the side in the first and the team responded with all the runs he needed in the bottom of the inning.

Senior shortstop Yordys Valdez drove in the first run with an RBI double, which was followed by a deep fly ball to right by Kevin Iler that scored Ullises Figueroa for a 2-0 lead.

Figueroa went 2-for-4 with two runs scored.

McArthur put the game out of reach with three runs in the bottom of the fifth for a 5-0 advantage.

“The guys have worked hard and as I’ve told them all year all they need to do is execute. They have done that and persevered. It’s paid off and we have another game to play.”

That chased Mater starting pitcher Yoansel Diaz as he was replaced in the bottom of the sixth inning. Diaz allowed five runs on five hits and struck out five.

The Lions’ loss was the eighth this season in which they have scored one run or fewer.

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