Columbus posted a huge early season win, beating current #11 and 2011 National Champion Archbishop McCarthy 4-1 in an early season battle of two of Miami's top teams.
The game featured a dandy of a pitching match-up pitting McCarthy LHP Andre Martinez, a Florida State commit, facing Columbus RHP Yency Almonte, uncommitted but ranked #205 in the 2012 class and expected to be a draft selection in June.
The game's key moment came in the bottom of the first inning as Martinez got off to a rocky start, walking the lead-off man. A Danny Lynch double sandwiched between a pair of strikeouts gave the Explorers runners on second and third with two out. Second baseman Michael Obregon responded to the challenge ripping a 3-run homerun to left field to give Columbus an early lead that they wouldn't relinquish.
Almonte was sharp all night, going six innings and striking out five, allowing three hits. He worked in the low 90s, touching 93. Almonte kept his pitch count low, getting ahead of hitters with his fastball, and elevating his fastball with two strikes as well as throwing a curveball, slider and changeup.
"Certainly with our pitching depth, we are better with the lead," said Columbus Coach Joe Weber.
As sharp as Almonte was, Martinez settled down and dominated the rest of his outing, allowing just one hit, pitching into the fifth inning. Martinez sat 88-91 and complimented his heater with a curveball and change that he threw for strikes.
McCarthy pushed across their only tally in the sixth as they put runners on second and third with one out. Jonathan Quintana scored on Nick Travieso's sacrifice fly and the side was retired as Obregon snared a hard hit line drive to end the inning.
The biggest scouting story of the game was McCarthy RHP Nick Travieso, currently ranked #37 in the 2012 class. The big right-hander showed his best stuff working in the mid 90s and touching 97, impressively shutting down the talented Explorers offense.
Closer Ryan Guerra picked up his fourth save of the year for Columbus, pitching a scoreless 7th.
"It was a good test for us, Columbus is a very good team and they cam ready to play. I can see why they are considered one of the top teams in Florida if not the country," said McCarthy Coach Rich Bielski.
Looking forward Weber knows that increased offense will do wonders for the Explorers season. "We haven't hit our stride hitting wise. There was some improvement. We need our at-bats to be more selective and swing at better pitches. I think if we score three runs we can win every game with our pitching."
Both teams look to be member of the PG High School Top 50 Rankings throughout the year and battle for the National Title.
In a marquee early season matchup PG 2011 National Champion Archbishop McCarthy will travel south to take on perennial power Columbus in a game that will give one of the teams an early leg up in the fierce battle to be best team in Miami.
McCarthy rolled thru the 2011 season going 29-3 and was named PG National Champion after defeating Tampa Jesuit in the 4A title game. They return a very talented roster and open the season ranked #11 in the Perfect Game High School Top 50 ranking.
Columbus has routinely sent players on to next level with an astounding 97 players moving on to division one baseball and a number moving on to professional ball. Last year’s ace, LHP Andrew Suarez was picked in the 9th round of the 2011 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays.
McCarthy will have to overcome the losses of 2B/RHP Alex Fernandez, 3B/RHP Jose Brizuela, and the rest of last year’s senior class but so far have not missed a beat winning their first three games including a 32-0 (not a typo) win over Stranahan last week. Coach Rich Bielski gives the credit to his two senior pitchers for keeping the focus.
“Andre Martinez and Nick Travieso have stepped right into the leadership role for us this year and they are both working so hard, they are so competitive and have made it known that they love making lifetime memories like winning big games and piling up after games in the postseason.”
Lefty Martinez, a Florida State commit, is one of the top pitchers in the state and has been clocked in the low 90s. He will get the start with righty Travieso, a Miami commit who has been clocked as high as 95, pitching in relief on Friday. Brian Gonzalez, just a sophomore is another Maverick arm to watch. The big lefty has been up to 89 and is ranked #20 in the 2014 class.
Travieso has also led the team early with the bat hitting .417 in the early-going with a pair of homers and nine RBI. Another top hitter is SS Nick Basto, a Florida International commit, who is hitting an even .500 with 11 RBI and seven stolen bases, and OF Adam Duarte (St. Thomas) has picked up where he left off last year with a .462 average and five stolen bases.
Columbus, who opens the season #37 in the PG High School Top 50, has one of the deepest and most talented pitching staffs in the county. The group is headlined by RHPs Mike Vinson and Yency Almonte. Almonte has been up to 92 and is one the highest ranked pitchers in the state and Vinson, a Florida commit was at 92 at last year’s PG National. They are joined by two more upper 80s arms in RHP Danny Dopico and LHP Luis Collazo (Virginia Tech commit).
Offense has been hard to come by for the Explorers in the early season as they have won all three regular season games after dropping a preseason contest to Belen Jesuit. In the three games their pitching has allowed only one earned run, while their offense tallied just a pair of runs apiece in wins over Coral Reef and Jensen Beach before scoring nine in a win over Ferguson.
The offense does not lack high level talent with D1 commits all over the field. 1B Danny Lynch (Elon), 2B Michael Obregon (interest from a number of D1 programs), SS Frank Navarette (Samford), and 3B Laz Rivera (Florida State) form one the nation’s best infields with young players like C Chris Perez and C/DH Brent Diaz contributing as well.
Coach Joe Weber looks for the pitching to again be the key in Friday’s matchup with Almonte getting the start with RHP Ryan Guerra, another mid 80s arm, figuring to throw in relief.
“We’re going to look to play small ball. One run is going to be huge. We just need to execute and focus on 3 or 4 runs per game.”
First pitch is slated for 6:30 from Miami. Check back Saturday for a recap of the game and Tuesday for new PG High School Top 50 rankings.
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