Palm Beach High School Baseball
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Trinity Clinches District Top Seed Over Westminster

Aldrich de Jonge threw six and a third in the win, striking out five and allowing just three hits

The race for the top seed in the District 3A-14 tournament came down to the final day of the district schedule. How fitting that the top two teams in the district, Trinity Christian and Westminster Academy, decided it on the field when the two met up Thursday night.

For Trinity Christian, it was pretty simple. Win and they got the top spot in the district tournament. A Westminster win would have meant that some tiebreakers would come into play.

Behind six and two-thirds innings of three-hit ball and a nine-hit night at the plate, the Warriors clinched the coveted top seed by beating Westminster Academy 5-1.

“It was a great game,” Trinity Christian Manager Miguel Cuello said. “Great pitching on our side. We were supposed to start our #1 pitcher tonight, but he had been a little hurt. So we went with our best pitcher at the moment, which is Aldrich de Jonge. I think he pitched a great game.”

After hitting the first batter of the game, de Jonge settled in nicely, showing command of his pitches and keeping the opposition guessing. For all six innings, de Jonge never saw more than four batters in an inning while allowing only three hits and striking out five.

“We said before the game we had to attack,” Cuello said. “There was no two ball, two strike, let’s try and get a curveball over, let’s just go at it. I knew on the bases they liked to steal and hit and run, and we didn’t want to have trouble with that so we went right at them.”

For de Jonge, the key to doing exactly what Cuello talked about was locating his pitches.

“I felt great tonight,” de Jonge said. “Hitting my spots and trying to get pop ups and groundouts.”

de Jonge had plenty of run support from his offense as well. Trinity Christian played the small ball to near perfection with sacrifice bunting, stealing, and hitting-and-running.

Yerson Rosalia went 2-for-2 with two singles, an RBI, and a run scored.

It all started in the second inning. Shadrach Muelens lead off the inning with a single. After advancing via an error and a passed ball, he was driven in by an RBI single from Yerson Rosalia. In the fourth inning it was a sacrifice fly by Xavier Edwards that drove in the first of the two runs that inning. The Warriors went and tacked on two more in the sixth, highlighted by a sacrifice bunt with runners at the corners and one out. While that run might not have seemed like that big of a deal at the time with a 4-0 lead, it was a big deal for Cuello.

“I talked to the guys about that,” Cuello said. “When you’re not hitting, even a bunt makes it 5-0. You might not think of it but if say they get a double with the bases loaded at the end, the game is tied at four, so you never know. So we safety-squeeze, and that’s another run they have to come back and get.”

Westminster Academy tried to make it a game late. They got a run in the top of the seventh and even had the bases loaded at one point, before Edmond Americaan came in and locked down the save.

While Cuello tried not to look too far ahead, he knew that Thursday’s game was going to ultimately decide who got that one seed for quite some time.

“This week was set two months ago,” Cuello said. “I said to the guys that I didn’t want to look too far ahead but it’s tough because it’s two games in one week and you can only throw your ace in one of them, so you have to throw your secondary guy in the other. So I thought about it, these were the two big games.”

As a result, Cuello said now he can set his pitching match ups and have his best pitchers go in the district tournament games.

“Two and three play six and seven to start off, but then two and three play each other, with each throwing their number one,” Cuello explained. “We have three #1s on our team, where other teams have one, maybe two #1s. They have to throw their #2 in that game when they play us, and we can throw our #1.”

Cuello also said that if they play the way they played on Thursday night, there is no reason why they can’t win the district tournament.

“The key is try and play the same way we played tonight,” Cuello said. “I told the guys, a bunt is is a bunt. I don’t care if its number 3, 4, or 5; you need to get runs. Once you get runs, the other team can’t bunt. I wanted to see how they were going to react to getting out, but getting a run. Sometimes kids want to get the RBI and get the hit but you can’t always have it both ways. I don’t care what their average is; I just care that we go home with the win. The sooner they understand that as a team, the sooner they will be better as a group.”

All is not lost for Westminster Academy. They still get the two seed in the district tournament, and know that they have as good a shot as any to win the district tournament.

“We played very well all year long,” Lions Manager Nick James said. “Tonight was a good test, but as your pair down towards the end of the season I think it’s good to get in these environments where you definitely have a district championship feel or district tournament kind of feel. So now it’s about being healthy in the next two weeks and hopefully playing our best baseball when it matters in the next two weeks.”

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