Sarasota High sails to 3-1 finish
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Before Sarasota (Fla.) High School veteran head coach Clyde Metcalf sent his team out on the field Saturday morning, and even before Metcalf praised the efforts of his players at this weekend's first Perfect Game High School Showdown, he found it necessary to praise the event itself.
"It's been a great tournament, very well run," Metcalf said. "The effort put forth by the tournament (officials) and the grounds crews around here to get these games in has been unbelievable, but that's vintage Fort Myers. We've been talking about it all weekend; they do a magnificent job of getting the fields ready."
After winning an 11-1 game against Savannah Christian Prep on a rain-soaked field Thursday night and enduring an agonizing 1-0 loss to Parkview High School on Friday afternoon, the Sailors were back to business on Saturday. They took advantage of plenty of sunshine and excellent playing conditions on the well-groomed fields at City of Palms Park and Terry Park, and won a pair of games to finish the Showdown with a 3-1 record.
"We've had quality pitching and we've played very solid defense," Metcalf said. "I also think that we've had a lot of real good at-bats, so I've been very pleased. We've lost some ballgames (this season), but this is a great group of kids to work with, it really is."
Seniors Jason Sierra and Dylan White are the two most recognizable prospects on the Sailors' talented roster, although neither had what could be called blockbuster Showdown performances. Sierra, the class of 2013's No. 340-ranked national prospect and a Vanderbilt signee, was just 2-for-11 (.182) with a triple and two RBI; White, ranked 451st and a Miami recruit, was 3-for-11 (.273) with a pair of doubles.
Junior Tyler Leonard hit .444 (4-for-9) with a double, triple and four RBI to lead the Sailors at the plate. Their strength the last three days came from a six-man pitching staff that allowed only 15 hits and five earned runs in 25 innings (1.40 ERA) with 22 strikeouts and nine walks. Senior right-hander Joshua Knies allowed only one earned run on two hits with six strikeouts in six innings of work, but incredibly was the losing pitcher in that 1-0 loss to Parkview.
The Sailors return home with a 15-5 overall record and they'll have about two weeks of regular-season games remaining before they begin play in their district tournament. Metcalf believes the Showdown provided great preparation for what lies ahead.
"The timing is perfect," he said. "We came off of our tournament last week and jumped into this tournament, and it's good to get a lot of game-reps before the most important time of the year, which is the district tournament. So I think the timing of this, at least for the Florida schools, is excellent.
"The competition's been good and it's great to play teams that you normally don't play," he continued. "That's the biggest thing when you go into a tournament setting is you look for good competition and teams that you don't play on a regular basis, and this tournament met both of those needs."
Mater Academy closes with three-game win streak
The Mater Academy Lions accomplished the unthinkable in their fourth and final game at the PG High School Showdown Saturday afternoon: they 10-runned 13th-ranked Parkview High School from Lilburn, Ga.
Angel Ortiz hit a bases loaded double and eventually came all the way around to score on a throwing error to cap a seven-run bottom of the seventh and lead the Lions to a 10-0 win over the Panthers. They scored their 10 runs on five hits and six walks and Ortiz's game-winning double was their only extra-base hit.
It was the Lions third straight win at the event after opening play with a 9-2 loss to Blessed Trinity Catholic High School (Roswell, Ga.) on Thursday night. That game was played at Terry Park after a day's worth of thunderstorms.
"I thought they've played well," Mater Academy head coach Eddie Gorriz said. "We were dealing with a wet ball in the first game and we got a little bit sloppy and let the game get away from us. I was trying to squeeze out a win in that first game and save our pitching; that was my plan, but it kind of backfired."
After that loss, the Lions beat Cartersville, 8-7, and Savannah Christian, 8-3, leading to Saturday's rout of Parkview.
Seniors William Abreu, Juan Escarra and Kevin Abraham are the leaders of this team, and each contributed a little of something down here the last three days.
Abreu, a Miami signee ranked 50th in PG's national prospect rankings in the class of 2013, was only 2-for-13 (.154), but his hits were a double and a home run and he drove in five runs. Escarra, a Florida International signee ranked 195th, had three singles in 12 trips (.250), and drove in three runs and scored three more. Abraham, who has signed with Florida Atlantic and is ranked 180th, was 4-for-11 (.364) with a double and two RBI.
Junior Michael Mediavilla, a Miami commit, had a good all-around tournament for the Lions. He hit .364 (4-for-11) and pitched 7 2/3 innings over two appearances, allowing four hits and one earned run (0.91 ERA) while striking out eight.
"This is a very good group, a fun group," Gorriz said. "We're led by three seniors ... and this group really is a fun group. We don't have any problems and the kids get good grades, and that makes it more enjoyable when things set up that way."
Mater Academy is located in Hialeah Gardens, Fla., in Miami-Dade County over on Florida's east coast. After their solid showing here over the past few days, Gorriz hopes the Lions are invited back to the Showdown again next year.
"Anytime you get to take the kids out of town and travel, it's great," he said. "Fort Myers isn't far for us but it's still getting them out and it helps bring the kids together. The facilities are great and the tournament is great and the competition is great; four games in three days is tough on the pitching and we're a little thin, but you make do and we're having a great time out here."
Youthful Savannah Christian can't find win column
The starting lineup Savannah (Ga.) Christian Preparatory School associate head coach Chris Spurlock submitted for the Raiders final game at the Perfect Game High School Showdown Saturday afternoon included one senior, four juniors, one sophomore and four freshmen. In a previous game at the Showdown, the Raiders played as many as five freshmen.
It was against that backdrop of youth and inexperience that Savannah Christian attempted to take down four top-caliber teams from Florida, only to come up short each time. And as fate would have it, in this case it was the last cut that was the deepest.
The Raiders looked to be on the verge of winning their Showdown finale when they took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the sixth against Montverde Academy. The Eagles promptly rallied for two runs in the frame and held on for a 3-2 win.
That outcome capped an 0-4 showing for Savannah Christian Prep at the first PG HS Showdown. Far from discouraged, Spurlock and head coach Carl Carter looked at the three-day event as a learning experience for a roster filled with underclassmen.
"So much with these young guys has been learning how to battle through adversity and be consistent and play hard every inning and play hard every pitch," Spurlock said. "We've learned down here against good teams that you have to continue to play, and finish innings and finish pitches and win pitches. We talk a lot about of winning pitches.
"We feel like we kind of came in here as a very young team but we leave here a little more seasoned and a lot more prepared for the playoffs."
As frustrating as the losses here were, the Raiders were really only embarrassed once, that in an 11-1 loss to Sarasota in Thursday night's opener. But they were outscored 27-6 in their four games and hit just .144 as a team, scoring six runs on 13 hits; even pitchers combined to give up 36 hits and 14 earned runs in 24 innings (4.08 ERA). Those numbers aside, Spurlock sees the glass as half-full.
"It's interesting because I think our kids see how close we can be," he said. "We've been over-matched at times at the plate, but they see where the bar's at and where we have to go and where we want to go and where we feel we can go. We're learning how to develop our roster and build our own talent base, so it's been a good learning experience for us."
Middle-infielder Jacob Lightle was the only senior starter for the Raiders on Saturday; just about everyone else will return. It might be wise to keep the names Chase Marini, Will Hodges, Ben Hauessler and Trey Kramer close at hand. Those are the four freshmen that started Saturday.
"Absolutely," Spurlock said when asked if he would like to be invited back to the Showdown again next year. Then, after a short hesitation, he added: "With these freshmen, maybe in two years? But yes, we hope this is something we can continue to be invited to and can come back and continually make better showings and build on each year."