Baseball Season Comes to a Close

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Dominique Mayorga

Junior Lucas Scimeca (15) jumps for joy as he’s mobbed by teammates and scores the game-winning run against Cooper City on February 22, 2021.

Jacob LaRoque, Contributor

On Friday, May 7th the SBHS varsity baseball season came to a halt in a disappointing 10-0 loss against the Doral Academy Firebirds.

Senior Jacob LaRoque started on the mound, giving up five hits and four earned runs in three innings of work. Junior Dylan Khan came in during the fourth inning and had a similar fate as LaRoque, surrendering three hits and four runs in the fourth.

Hits from Luke Valenchis and Dominic Martinez turned out to be the only offensive production for the Bulldogs all game.

The disappointing end to the season had players recounting on the wild comebacks, tight games, and thrilling wins the Bulldogs played all season.

“This game doesn’t tell the story of our season,” senior Max Markus said, “This whole playoff ride was a fun and not so fun one at times, but if a few things went our way, you never know what could’ve happened.”

One of the things that went the Bulldogs way was earning a spot in the 6A District 15 championship game against the top-seeded Barbara Goleman Gators. However, not only did that game not go as planned, there was controversy that still hasn’t left the minds of Bulldog players, coaches, and fans altogether.

Right off the bat, the Bulldogs were dealt a blow when their second baseman, Tyler Ochs, a crucial part of the team’s success, was hit just under his left eye with a fastball. Trainers rushed the field and tended to Ochs immediately. After a near 20 minute delay, Ochs was transported in an ambulance and transferred to a nearby hospital.

Trailing 3-1 in the top of the sixth inning, the Bulldogs varsity team was looking to start a rally. After Valenchis and LaRoque reached on back-to-back singles, senior catcher William Hall came up ready.

Then the play happened.

With a 1-1 count and runners on second and third, a pitch in the dirt scooted just by the catcher and Valenchis broke for home. After a bang-bang play at the plate, the umpire exclaimed loudly “OUT!” Yet, a gleam of hope shined through as the umpire saw the ball roll on the ground before the catcher could pick it up. “He’s safe!” The Bulldogs had seemed to have caught their big break, focusing now on getting the next run in, but the Goleman coach ran onto the field and pleaded his case with the umpires. After a conference between the umpires, the home plate umpire once again overturned his call, calling the runner Valenchis out at the plate.

The Bulldogs ultimately lost the game 3-1 to the Gators.

Although the season would continue, there was still a sour taste left in the mouths of the Bulldogs players.

“Yeah, it’s still a little tender,” said right fielder Lucas Scimeca, “You never want to say one play changed a game but all I know is we earned our spot in that district championship and I wish it could’ve ended differently.”

“I told these guys when they look back, they’re not going to remember our mistakes or what we should’ve done right,” LaRoque said, “They’re going to remember those extra-inning wins, those big hits, and those times we went out to celebrate after a big win.”

At the same field where the Bulldogs had suffered the heartbreaking loss, two days prior they had ground out an extra-inning win against the McArthur Mustangs in the district semi-final.

“The McArthur game probably had the most emotion in any game I’ve played in,” Valenchis said reflecting on the playoff win. “I don’t think that any of us could say that we wanted something more in a baseball game.”

The game was left in a deadlock tie-up until the ninth inning. The pitcher’s duel featured a full nine innings of shutout ball thrown between Jacob LaRoque 7 2/3 innings and Dylan Khan 1 1/3 innings and some wild plays from the defense in the last two innings of the game. In the top of the 8th inning with two outs and a runner on first, a deep fly ball was hit to left field.

“I wasn’t sure where the fence was,” senior outfielder Max Markus said. “But as soon as I heard Luke say “You got room” I knew I had it.”

Markus caught the ball on the warning track for the third out and kept the scoreboard blank.

Similarly, a runner was on second base for McArthur in the top half of the 9th. As the runner attempted a steal to third, catcher William Hall gunned him down for the second out of the inning and once again kept the score at a 0-0 tie.

After nine rough innings, the Bulldogs wrenched out a 1-0 win when outfielder Max Markus scored from third on a throwing error by McArthur’s first baseman. The ball skipped past the shortstop, who was covering second, in an attempt to get outfielder Luke Valenchis, on a pick-off attempt to first.

“Games like the McArthur game were the games we thrived in most,” Hall said. “For sure, we played our best baseball in those tight games.”

The Bulldogs left their mark on South Broward during this memorable year. Through each challenge the team faced, the next player stepped up and did their part. Next year, the team looks to do more of the same and have their eyes set on capturing the coveted district title.