Palm Beach High School Baseball
Mastering the Mental Side of Baseball

Spanish River Falls To St. Thomas Aquinas In 8A Playoff

The Sharks defense catches out a potential base-stealer.

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Through the advancement in the game of baseball to current times, nothing ever seems simple on the baseball field anymore. With so many strategies and different lines of thinking nowadays, it is rare that occam’s razor is ever applied anymore.

In Tuesday’s home regional quarterfinal, St. Thomas Aquinas starter Blake Hely found that the most simple approach was the most logical. The right-hander attacked the visiting Spanish River offense, pounding the strike zone with pitch after pitch to work ahead and dictate his day. The result was a complete-game, one-hit shutout that was backed by plenty of offense, as St. Thomas Aquinas defeated Spanish River 12-0 at Ed Waters Field in Davie.

“Obviously it was a big regional game, and it was my first regional game. So I just wanted to come out and throw strikes,” Hely said. “We’ve been hitting all year, so I knew if I just did my job and filled it up they would do it for me. Our game plan coming in was just to attack. We had a good game plan coming in and I just had to trust Coach Tim calling pitches and just execute.”

Hely was not afraid to give the other team chances to hit the ball, throwing 44 of his 65 total pitches for strikes. Yet he surrendered just one hit, a single to right field off the bat of Sam Pirozzi in the top of the second inning. He also hit a batter but did not issue any walks. Although a few base runners reached via error, his defense responded by turning three double plays, which led to Hely facing only one batter over the minimum.

“We got beat by a very good team that should go on and compete for a state title,” Sharks manager William Harvey said.

The Raiders advance to play at Coral Glades in an 8A Regional Semifinal on Tuesday, May 15th. The Jaguars defeated Fort Lauderdale 7-1 on the other side of the bracket to also advance.

Sam Pirozzi had Spanish River’s lone hit, a single to right field in the second inning.

The Raiders’ offense certainly did its part to back the starter, connecting for three home runs, including a game-ending grand slam from Andres Antonini in the bottom of the sixth inning. It began right away in the bottom of the first, after Matt Archer connected for a lead-off double, Caleb Roberts drove a 3-1 offering over the center field fence for a two-run lead.

Three innings later it was Riley Rosario who got into the action, swatting a two-run home run over the left field fence. Catcher Nick Vera had gotten aboard with a double, and was replaced by courtesy-runner Raheem Salmon, who was able to trot home on the longball. Antonini then put a final exclamation point on the win, crushing a shot to center after Gabriel Terry and Wade Iben both walked and Archer singled to fill up the bases.

The defeat brings an end to the season for the Sharks (18-8), a season that was its most successful in many years. The program reached the regional playoffs for the first time in five years, and also recorded more wins in a season than it ever has in the past dozen years.

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