Boca Downs Jupiter, Sets Up Park Vista Rematch
When the Jupiter Warriors and Boca Raton Bobcats last met, it was a lopsided affair that went in Boca’s favor during the Hall of Fame Classic played over spring break. Both teams suspected that when they met again for a regional quarterfinal contest on Thursday night at Florida Atlantic University, the competition would be much stiffer. It was.
Just as he has done all season, Palm Beach County’s top hitter, Michael Amditis, continued to torment opposing pitchers. Amditis jacked a two-run home run in the third inning that proved to be the deciding factor in a 3-1 win for the Bobcats.
“That’s exactly what kind of game I thought it was going to be,” said Bobcats Manager Scott Morrison, dismissing the teams’ previous meeting as an aberration. “I knew that 18-1 was definitely not how this game was going to shape up. We capitalized on some mistakes an did what we needed to do to win.”
While the Warriors were the visitors on the scoreboard, their starter, Mack Lemieux, who will be playing college ball for Florida Atlantic next year, got a taste for his new yard. Tasked with quieting Palm Beach’s most potent lineup, Lemieux performed admirably, allowing two earned runs on five hits through six innings. He gave up a one-out, full-count double to Carlos Leon in the first, but Leon was thrown out at third trying to stretch it into a double.
Lemieux allowed another double to Ricardo Gonzalez to lead off the second inning and this one came back to haunt him. A throwing error on a ground ball by Colton Eremian two outs later gave Gonzalez the opportunity to race home from third and open up a 1-0 lead for Boca.
The Warriors answered back with an unearned run of their own in the top of the third. Ramon Machado lead the frame off with an eight-pitch walk, stole second base and then scored on a throwing error during a bunt attempt by number nine hitter Robert Valdez.
With the score tied at one, Amditis went to work in the Bobcats half of the third, recording his only hit of the night. After Leon singled to start the frame, Amditis sent the second pitch he saw sailing over the left field fence.
“Basically the whole game I was trying to get on that fastball.” said Amditis, who also reached on an error in two other at-bats. “I got it and it worked out well.”
From there, Lemieux did his best to keep his team in the game. He recorded three straight outs to end the third and did not allow another hit until the sixth.
Lemieux also did his part with the stick. He roped a sinking liner into center field and, although Bobcat fielder Mike Spooner made a valiant, sliding effort to haul it in, it resulted in a double that put runners at second and third with just one out.
Boca starter Mitchell Senger showed his mettle to keep the Warriors off the scoreboard and preserve the lead though. He stuck out the next batter swinging then induced a ground ball back to the mound for the third out.
“A base hit ties that game,” Morrison said. “I’ve had so much confidence in our pitching, our defense and offense all year so no matter who we have out there on the mound, whether it’s the Senger brothers, Mitchell or Jagger McCoy, I know we’re going to be able to get out of it. Mitchell stepped up and got us out of the jam with a big-time strikeout right there.”
Senger, who allowed just the one unearned run through six innings, deferred much of the credit for his success on the night to his defense. But he also recognized the importance of his fourth-inning heroics.
“That was big for me and the rest of the team,” said the lefty hurler. “It was a good turning point for us and got us all fired up to finish the game.”
His defense did indeed come up big for him in the sixth inning, turning a 4-6-3 double play after a one-out single by Zach Johns gave Jupiter hope of starting a rally. The Boca fielders showed the same support for Mitchell’s brother, Dalton, who came on for the save in the seventh. After Mason Doolittle opened the frame by drawing a walk, Machado hit back to the mound, where Dalton fielded it cleanly to initiate a 1-6-3 double play.
“We just didn’t get it done,” said Jupiter Manager Andy Mook. “They fought hard, it wasn’t like they weren’t trying and weren’t fighting. These guys, I’m proud of them and the season they put in. They battled.”
While Jupiter now begins to settle in for the long offseason, Boca will start preparing for round four of their season-battle with district rival Park Vista. Boca avenged two one-run, regular-season losses by pouncing on Vista in the district championship, but both teams had the luxury of knowing they would live to fight another day in that game. This time around, it is a winner-take-all battle, and Amditis thinks his team is up for the challenge.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” said the Bobcats star catcher. “We’re both going to put up a good fight and I can’t wait to play it.”
His manager concurred.
“It’ll be a good one,” predicted Morrison. “They know us, we know them and there’s going to be a lot of emotion.”