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Big Fifth Pushes Forest Hill Past Lake Worth Christian

Raymond Sanchez had a breakout 3-for-3, 2 RBI performance at the plate.

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The Forest Hill Falcons’ next three games will be the final remaining contests they have against district opponents before the 7A-13 tournament begins. On Saturday morning they primed themselves for that stretch run by besting the Lake Worth Christian Defenders by a score of 15-1 in HSBN’s Palm Beach County Game of the Week. It was their second victory in a row and improves their season record to 10-9, with a 6-4 district mark that puts them right in the thick of the hotly contested 7A-13 race.

“This was nice,” said Forest Hill Manager Russ Milliken. “It was nice to go out and play West Boca and get that win, then roll right into this. We got kicked around a little bit in the beginning of the week and were able to bounce back. It’s always nice to be able to get a winning streak going before you come up and play a couple of district games.”

The visiting Falcons staked an early lead by taking advantage of a couple of Defenders miscues to score three unearned runs in the top of the first. Rafael Debrand reached on a two-base throwing error to set up one of Forest Hills top hitters, Manny Bejerano, with an early RBI opportunity. Berejano took advantage by pulling a 3-1 pitch into left field to open the scoring. Another error two batters later brought Berejano home and put Jose Guerra on second base. Raymond Sanchez then kicked off a perfect 3-for-3 game with the first of his two RBIs to make it 3-0.

Two free passes issued to Yazer Braafhart and Orsen Josephina in the bottom of the first put Lake Worth Christian in position to eat into the lead. Except Josephina eventually got caught in a rundown between second and third and was tagged for the third out.

Max Howard added another run to the Falcons’ tally in the second by rushing home from third base while Debrand was caught trying to swipe second.

Dustin Lee drove in the Defenders’ sole run in the second inning.

The Defenders made it 4-1 in their half of the second when Dustin Lee drove in Vinnie Picardi with a base hit. It was the only run that Falcons starter Hector Perdigon allowed, as he worked three and two-thirds of an inning to earn his fourth win of the season.

Jorge Hernando took Peridon’s place on the mound with two outs in the fourth. He shut the Defenders down the rest of the way.

Meanwhile, his offense went on a tear in the fifth inning, bringing 17 batters to the plate to score 11 runs, highlighted by Jose Torres’ first at-bat of the game. On a 1-0 count, the center fielder batted a ball that made it over a defender’s head and proceeded to roll all the way to the fence. Showing good hustle from the moment of contact, Torres was able to make it all the way around the bases, while pushing in Grant Mahoney and Kylan Barnett for a three-run, inside-the-park home run.

“I didn’t think I would make it all the way around because they got the ball quick and brought it in quick,” said Torres through a translator. “But I had confidence in myself and just kept running.”

Guerra and Sanchez were also key contributors to the big inning.

Guerra walloped two doubles into left field, the second of which brought around two runs.

“I was just trying to put a good bat on the ball and it really hyped us up,” said Guerra about his success and the effect it had in the dugout. “I want to thank my JV coach for helping me with learning a good swing.”

Sanchez capped off his perfect night with a run-scoring double in his first at-bat of the frame, and a single in his second.

“I’ve been struggling the whole season,” said the first baseman, who lugged a .128 batting average into the game. “So I was just looking to hit up the middle, try to get on base and help the team out.”

Both managers showed a great deal of respect for each other at the conclusion of the lopsided affair.

Jose Torres hit a thrilling inside-the-park home run in the fifth inning.

“I think Lake Worth Christian is a much better club than that,” said Forest Hill’s Milliken. “It just wasn’t their day today. I think that’s a much better club than what we saw.”

Meanwhile, Defenders Manager Kraig Lawerence had nothing but praise for his counterpart.

“Russ is a great manager and I have the utmost respect for him,” said Lawerence, who is in his rookie managerial season. “He’s one of the guys I look up to and if I can accomplish the things he has I’m going to consider my career a success.”

The Defenders drop to 5-11 with the loss, but their skipper sees the light at the end of the tunnel. They’ve been in some close games and have held their own against many of their district opponents, giving him reason to believe that their three main pre-season goals of finishing at or above .500, winning a game in the district tournament and having fun, are all still attainable.

“When we put our guys out there and when we’re ready to go and we’re ready to play we know we can compete,” Lawerence said. “So, we’ll do what we’ve done all year: Go back to working hard and get it done.”

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