West Boca Storms To Shutout Win In Game Of The Week
Since High School Baseball Network expanded its coverage into Palm Beach County back in 2012, the West Boca Bulls have enjoyed some unplanned traditions with HSBN at the start of each season. For the fifth time in the past seven baseball seasons, West Boca welcomed HSBN Game-of-the-Week feature coverage for a February home game, and for the fourth such time the Bulls won the game with a shutout, this time a 10-0 victory over district rival Olympic Heights.
With the spotlight on their teams in front of a huge crowd for this exciting Friday night contest, both West Boca and Olympic Heights realized the opportunity to use the game of baseball to help ease a community still deep in mourning following the tragedy at Douglas High. Since the tragedy, the Lions have worn maroon uniforms with slogans such as “Family” and “#MSDSTRONG” on them, and most of the many fans in attendance on both sides wore the same for Friday’s game. A banner also reading #MSDSTRONG welcomed visitors to the fields at West Boca.
Douglas manager Todd Fitz-Gerald was invited to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, and Assistant Coach Dave Taylor and center fielder Carter Brady also joined their skipper on the mound for the ceremony. A moment of silence to honor the fallen victims was then held just before a live singing of the national anthem.
Prior to the game, West Boca senior Alex Cordero had made a promise to Coach Fitz-Gerald that he would hit a home run for Douglas tonight. In the bottom of the third inning, Cordero made good on his promise. After Julian Corzo reached on an error, Cordero turned on a pitch and drove it deep and over the fence in right field for a two-run blast.
“I’m sorry for those ones at Douglas, but this game was for them,” Cordero said.
With both schools located just a few miles away from Douglas, all the players know one another and the communities are one and the same. The opportunity to enjoy some baseball normalcy and honor the greater joys of life was all anyone could ask for in times of sorrow.
For the Bulls (1-1), the bats got hot early on and they never cooled off.
“Going out there strong in the bottom of the first was strong and it really set the tone,” Coach Stallone said. “Then I think that home run got everybody pumped up and we just kept rolling from there. This feels real good and it helps to get rid of some of the anxiety that gets built up. We’ve been practicing hard and working out with the guys all winter long and it really paid off tonight.”
Francisco Hernandez electrified the Lions with their first base hit of the night on a liner to center field with two outs in the top of the first, but Bulls starter Zach Dodson snared a comebacker for an easy 1-3 putout to end the threat. Once West Boca got its first swings, it never looked back.
The Bulls put up four runs in the bottom of the first inning to take a commanding lead they never surrendered. Brendan Esposito singled to center and then came all the way around to score when Corzo drilled a single that then got past the defender and rolled to the wall, allowing Corzo to circle all the way around to third.
There was still plenty to come, as the next four batters all also reached base. Cordero was hit by a pitch and David Hill lined a double to left field that drove in both runners. Corey Bruno then put an exclamation point on the big frame by nailing a liner into the right-center field gap for an RBI triple.
The scoring burst left little margin for error as the Lions (0-3) worked to stage a comeback. Olympic Heights put some good swings to drive the ball several times, but the Bulls’ defense answered the call by chasing down several long fly balls.
Meanwhile, Dodson delivered a stellar performance on the mound. The junior right-hander allowed only one more hit on a single to center by Cameron Baillargeon in the second, he had no walks and he struck out eight. Dodson earned the complete-game shutout victory after West Boca piled on four more runs to close out the ball game.
Cordero adjusted in his final at bat and managed to start things off with a liner into right field. Hill followed with a single, Bruno was intentionally walked and an error brought Cordero home. Bobby Stallone then reached on a fielder’s choice that erased Hill at the plate, and Zach Weissman got in on the action with an RBI single lined into center field. Trevor Lay then reached on an error that brought around the final two runs of the night.
Hosting HSBN for February home games has gone well for West Boca. In 2012 the Bulls won 1-0 over Boca Raton, in 2013 it was a 3-0 win over Boca and in 2014 they shut out Spanish River 2-0 in the Game of the Week. They also won a 2016 Game of the Week in early February, 6-2 against St. John Paul II.