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Trinity Christian Utilizes Dual Threat To Best Palm Beach Central

It was hard to tell if Aldrich De Jongh was more dangerous on the mound or at the plate for the Warriors.

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The Trinity Christian Warriors earned their first victory of the young 2016 season by getting the better of Palm Beach Central, 7-3, on Tuesday night in a game that was closer than the final score would seem to suggest.

It was the second night of competition in the Santaluces Slam at the Santaluces Sports Complex and with cold and blustery conditions prevailing, pitching reigned supreme for the much of the way. Both hurlers, Aldrich De Jongh for Trinity, and Anthony Maldonado for Central, worked five full innings and posted nearly identical lines. Each allowed five hits, each struck out four and each walked one and hit another with a pitch. The one difference was the most critical, as De Jongh gave up just one run compared to Maldonado’s two, to earn the victory.

De Jongh was also a difference maker at the plate for the Warriors, driving in three runs in a 2-for-4 night.

“I’m originally an outfielder, but end up pitching sometimes,” De Jongh explained about being such a dual threat. “I do my best where ever I play.”

That attitude first manifested itself in the top of the second inning. With two out and a runner on third, De Jongh bounced a ground ball past the diving Bronco’s first baseman for his first RBI and Trinity’s first run.

It did not take long for PBC to answer back. Chris Armas, who would later leave the game with a thumb injury, singled with two out in the top of the second. He moved to third on a sharp grounder into right field by Pierson Reynolds, then scored on the same play when the Warriors had some trouble corralling the throw in from the outfield.

Anthony Maldonado tossed a great game but was a tough-luck loser for the Broncos.

In the fourth inning, De Jongh struck again, this time teaming up with Trinity’s other offense star of the night, Angel Tiburcio, to break the tie. Tiburcio’s cracked a one-out single that was followed by a gutsy, seven-pitch walk by Xavier Edwards and a nicely-struck single by Terrance Goeloe to load the bases. De Jongh then grounded out to first base, but brought Tiburcio home in the process.

After escaping the fourth inning jam with minimal damage, Maldonado tossed a 1-2-3 fifth inning before taking a seat for the night. He had kept Trinity hitters off balance throughout the game with a good mix of pitches, but to counter that, the Warriors had stayed patient and gritty, often taking him deep into counts. It was a strategy their manager, Miguel Cuello, had been banking on.

“Maldonado was great today, he had a good fast ball and his off-speed kept guys off guard at the same time,” said Cuello. “Knowing that it’s the first game of the season and that no one’s going to go seven innings, we wanted to wait until the next guy and see what he had and hopefully capitalize on whatever he brings.”

Tiburcio did just that by driving a ball into left-center for a lead-off double in the sixth. He eventually scored on a wild pitch and De Jongh tallied his third RBI later in the inning to run the score to 4-1.

The Warriors added three more runs in a sloppy top half of the seventh that saw two runners reach via error and two more on free passes.

Angel Tiburcio powered the Warrior’s offense with a 2-for-3 night and the games only extra-base hit.

Central rounded out the scoring by plating two in the final frame. Reynolds drew a walk to start things off and Hunter Gunn followed with a base hit. Reynolds later scored on a wild pitch while Gunn was brought home on a sacrifice fly by Brendan Power.

The loss marks the fourth time in as many years that the Broncos and their manager Scott Benedict, have dropped their second game of the season to the Warriors after winning their opener.

“I thought Maldonado did a great job of giving us a chance to win,” Benedict said afterwards. “He was going after hitters and holding runners on. He was competing his tail off so it was a great effort by him, it just turned into a deal where we were shooting ourselves in the foot.”

After dropping a rematch against Benjamin, the team that beat them in the playoffs last year, to start the season on Monday, Cuello liked what he saw from his guys on Tuesday night.

“I saw that our pitching and our defense look good,” Cuello said about his team’s efforts. “You saw our left fielder make two grabs. He’s a great outfielder, and my center fielder and right fielder are also great. So having them in there and having the pitching from Aldrich, who is our number three starter, having him pitch that well, we know what’s in store.”

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