Last year, there was a dogpile. There was excitement and euphoria, a feeling of “we did it.”
None of those applied late Tuesday afternoon when Xavier Moronta ripped a base hit to left, scoring Anthony Bordone from third in the bottom of the fifth to give the Doral Academy baseball team a 10-0 mercy-rule victory over West Boca Raton in a Region 4-7A final at Doral.
The win secured a second straight trip to the state final four for the Firebirds, who will take on either Viera or Tampa Leto at CenturyLink Sports Complex in Fort Myers on May 31 at 7 p.m. in a state semifinal.
But even more pleasing to head coach Ralph Suarez than the dominating performance by his players was what they did when the game ended. Not much.
Players lined up to congratulate their opponent and then headed out to left field to wait for their coaches. No dogpile. No wild celebration like last year when they defeated Okeechobee on the same field in the same game to clinch their first ever trip to state.
“That’s what I wanted to see,” said Suarez. “They acted like they’ve been there before which they have and clearly understand that there are two games left. There will be no dogpiles until after the final game and they are state champions. What happened last year was embarrassing and we have no intention of that happening again.”
Suarez referred to Doral’s state semifinal contest against Venice in which the Firebirds not only got smoked 11-1 in a five-inning mercy rule contest but gave up nine runs in the second inning, committing multiple errors and basically were overwhelmed by the moment.
“I guess there was a feeling of accomplishment last year in getting there,” said Suarez. “But they understand and I’ll remind them again that there is a great deal of business to tend to this time when we get out there.”
Sure enough, Suarez went off to talk to his players in left field and delivered that very message. Even though the Firebirds completed a three-game regional stretch in which they outscored Northeast, Belen Jesuit and West Boca by a combined 26-0, all of that means nothing unless they head out to the west coast and perform significantly better than a year ago.
Doral (23-6) was never threatened by the Bulls (19-7) as the Firebirds, thanks to a 2-RBI single by Moronta and RBI single by Salvador Alvarez, jumped all over West Boca starter Zach Dotson for three runs in the first inning.
After Matthew Corpas homered for Doral in the second to make it 4-0, Alvarez stepped up and hit a tape measure two-run shot over the left field fence in the third that went so far, it actually hit the building of the school.
That made it 6-0 and was more than enough for Doral starter Mario Garcia and Marcus Franco who relieved in the third as the two combined for a two-hit shutout.
“I don’t think I’ve hit a ball that far before and it felt pretty good,” said Alvarez who, despite being a freshman has already been offered and committed to the University of Florida. “I’m just thankful for the opportunity all my coaches give me and hopefully we can keep on rolling. We didn’t celebrate today because we know what happened to us when we got out there last year and we know we’ve got two more games this time.”
Wednesday’s baseball regional final schedule
▪ Region 3-9A: Flanagan at Palm Beach Central, 4:30 p.m.
▪ Region 4-9A: Coral Park at Coral Reef, 4 p.m.
▪ Region 4-8A: St. Thomas Aquinas at McArthur, 7 p.m.
▪ Region 4-6A: Eau Galle at Miami Springs, 7 p.m.
▪ Region 4-5A: Cardinal Gibbons at Monsignor Pace, 4 p.m.