Santaluces Ends Long Drought With Big Win Over Park Vista
Palm Beach High School Baseball
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Santaluces Ends Long Drought With Big Win Over Park Vista

Santaluce’s Jared Petronis went the distance to earn the victory over Park Vista.

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Late in the game with the pressure mounting is actually Jared Petronis’ favorite time of the action. The Santaluces junior says it gets him into a rhythm and he actually gets better and better as the game gets tighter and the outs become more crucial.

Friday night Petronis and the rest of the Chiefs embraced the pressure of a tight game just like they have all season long, which helped the club do something it had not accomplished in over eight years. Behind a complete-game performance from Petronis and an aggressive, up-tempo approach that has been characteristic all year, Santaluces defeated district rival Park Vista 4-2 at home at Santaluces Sports Complex.

The victory is the program’s first win over the Park Vista since a 3-0 decision on February 19th, 2010, and the Chiefs (19-2) had lost 16 straight since that time. In more recent meetings the margin of defeat had slimmed down, including a 1-0 loss to the Cobras at their place earlier this season.

“This is the game that we’ve been waiting for all year,” Petronis admitted. “We came close to them last time, and for the past three years now we’ve come close and just couldn’t finish. We finally finished, and that last out tonight was the best feeling all year. We drew some blood now and we know we can beat them now.”

Having split the season series and finished with matching 5-1 district records, the top seed in the 9A-10 district tournament will now be determined by a coin flip. Boca Raton is heading in as the third seed, with Lake Worth returning to the district playoffs as the fourth seed.

“It’s an awful easier road getting to the district championship being the one seed and we’ll see what happens with that coin flip,” Santaluces manager Nick Franco said. “We’re competitive against them but we never really figured out how to battle them, and this year we battled but still lost. Then, in this game, we were fortunate enough to be on the winning side. It all starts with Jared though. The way he pitched tonight is the way he’s pitched all season. He has ice in his veins, he doesn’t get rattled and he’s such a polished pitcher that dominates the strike zone.”

Brendan Bell allowed two earned runs in five innings on four hits and three walks for Park Vista, and he had seven strikeouts.

Petronis improved to 7-1 on the season, while also delivering his fifth complete game. The right-hander pounded the zone all night and finished with six strikeouts, while scattering six hits and four walks and allowing two earned runs. Working with poised precision, Petronis controlled the zone all night and maintained his composure even though the Cobras (14-5) managed base runners against him in all but one inning.

Just as it has all season, the Santaluces defense also shined. In recent outings Petronis has recorded less strikeouts as he has pitched more and more to contact, trusting a defense that continues to deliver. Santaluces did not commit an error and also recorded a double play to end the first inning.

“They played hard and they deserved it more than we did,” Park Vista manager Larry Greenstein said. “They didn’t make any errors and we made four errors and let it fall apart. That is part of baseball and now we have to regroup. But they played good baseball over there tonight, and they made some tough plays. In a close ball game it sure makes a difference. Their staff does a good job and this is their year, and we’ve got to find another way, because they certainly outplayed us tonight.”

Both sides traded runs in the first inning, with Zach Hurley scoring off an RBI single from Chris Seymour for Park Vista and M.J. Restivo reaching on a base hit and later scoring on an error for Santaluces. The Chiefs then scored to go ahead for good in the bottom of the third inning, as Michael Etchells walked, stole second and came home on an RBI single to left field from Restivo.

The Chiefs were never content and maintained their aggressive attack throughout. They had six stolen bases in all and kept the pressure on the Cobra defense all night. That approach also helped manufacture another insurance run with two outs in the fifth, as Orrico walked, stole both second and third and then scored on a sac-fly RBI to right field from Angel Diaz.

The Chiefs were aggressive on the bases, and M.J. Restivo had one of six stolen bases for his club. He was also 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run.

“We’re a really athletic team and it shows in how we play. We play aggressive and we really emphasize running the bases and stealing bases,” Orrico said. “It’s one of the biggest things we focus on. All fall we really trained on speed, and it shows. Me and MJ are really fast, and we have a lot of other guys that can really move too.”

As a four-year varsity starter, Orrico knows as well as any member of the team how big a win it was on Friday night. Although the two rivals could possibly meet two more times this season, should both advance to the regional semifinals, Friday night may have been the last chance Orrico and his six senior teammates had at finally earning a win over the Cobras.

“It’s absolutely incredible,” Orrico said. “They’ve always been one of the biggest teams on our schedule, and you look at Park Vista and know it is going to be a great game. We had a great turnout tonight, and we’ve had a lot of close games with them in the past. I’ve waited for four years for this, because there have been a lot of times they have come back in late innings and victory has just been snatched from us a lot. Tonight we played a complete ball game.”

Santaluces also tallied a run in the fourth. Sophomore Eathyn Little reached base all three plate appearances on Friday, and in his second at bat he reached on an error and scored off a passed ball.

Park Vista scored its only other run in the fourth. Cristian Desrosiers laced a single past the diving second baseman, advanced from first to third on a wild pitch that went to the back stop and then scored thanks to an excellent suicide-squeeze bunt from catcher Peyton Harmon. The Cobras did not manage to get another runner into scoring position in the final three frames.

“Honestly, their kids came out and played a clean game and we didn’t,” Greenstein said. “That’s baseball. Good thing is, it is not the last game. So we’ve got to flush it, move on and find a way to get back up and eliminate some of the mistakes. Maybe we’ll meet each other again. But Nick is a really good friend of mine and he has done a great job, and good for them. They have been hanging in long enough and they are having a great year, and I’m proud of what Nick’s done over there.”

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