After playing three times this season and having each game come down to the last inning, most expected Saturday afternoon’s Region 4-7A semifinal between district rivals Belen Jesuit and Doral Academy to deliver similar drama.
Fans from both sides packed Doral’s field in anticipation of a down-to-the-wire contest. But, thanks to a combined stout pitching performance from Doral pitchers Adrian Figueroa and Luis Espinal, there would be no drama on this day as the Firebirds cruised to an easy 6-0 win.
Doral (22-6) advances to the Region 4-7A final and will host West Boca Raton on Wednesday at 4 p.m. with a trip to the state final four at CenturyLink Stadium in Fort Myers on the line. Doral will be looking for its second straight trip to state.
“It’s extremely hard to beat a team as good as Belen three times in one year and we did that, which is really something,” said Doral head coach Ralph Suarez. “They’re a great team, fundamentally sound, they don’t give you too much but we went out there and got it done. A great job by Adrian and Luis out there pounding the zone and keeping them off the board.”
Figueroa started the game and pitched four innings, throwing 57 pitches, giving up three hits, striking out two and walking two. Espinal entered in the fifth and pitched the final three innings striking out three, yielding just two hits and never walked anyone.
It was also a strategy by Suarez that paid off as well as Figueroa or Espinal never saw the mound during any of the three previous games.
“This was our fourth time facing them but the first time I was out there so the strategy kind of paid off,” said Figueroa. “It was a matter of just going out there, getting ahead on the count and pounding the strike zone. We made it to states last year and lost. Now we want to get back there and finish it.”
Firebird players got their pitchers the only runs they would need by scoring twice in the first to grab an early 2-0 lead before tacking on three more in the third which pretty much ended the issue.
The Firebirds also spread the wealth around as nobody had more than one hit. Xavier Moronta had 2 RBIs and 2 runs scored while Gabby Gutierrez, Ronnie Medina, Dominic Pitelli and Matthew Cordas each had RBI singles. Defensively, the Firebirds were clean as a whistle in the field, not committing a single error.
“It all starts with our defense,” said Espinal. “We’re a great defensive team. All Adrian and I had to do was throw strikes and let our defense do the rest and that’s what they did.”