3A-11 Playoff Preview: Three Regional-Caliber Clubs To Clash
The Benjamin Buccaneers have been among the top teams in the county (and state) all season long, but they aren’t the only powerhouse in 3A-11.
This is a district that could very well produce three regional teams, and it will be fun to see those clubs fight it out for a district title.
Let’s take a look at each team’s prospects.
3A-11 District Playoff Schedule
Location: Higher seed will host
Quarterfinals – Monday (5/1)
No. 4 Lincoln Park vs. No. 5 Oxbridge Academy @ 6:00 p.m.
Semifinals – Tuesday (5/2)
No. 1 Benjamin vs. Winner (Lincoln Park-Oxbridge Academy) @ 6:00 p.m.
No. 2 Cardinal Newman vs. No. 3 King’s Academy @ 6:00 p.m.
Finals – Thursday (5/4)
Winner (Semifinal 1) vs. Winner (Cardinal Newman-King’s Academy) @ 6:00 p.m.
Benjamin – Team Page
The Buccaneers have been at the top of HSBN’s Palm Beach Power Rankings for most of the season, and manager Chad Mills has a slew of future Division I players at his disposal to make a deep regional run with.
Sophomore Jackson Miller (Miss. State) leads the team with a .426 batting average, 29 hits and four home runs. Walker Buchanan (Virginia) and Tristan Head (Virginia) also have four homers apiece, and the former leads the team with an incredible 31 runs driven in. Rocco Gaeta (Wagner) is another 254-hit guy who is a serious threat on the base paths. He has 15 stolen bases on the season and has only been caught once so far.
Parker McGraw has given up just three earned runs through 44.1 innings and struck out 44, which is second on the team behind Freddy Beruvides’ (Virginia) 464 punchouts through 31.2 innings.
Benjamin will make the regionals tournament regardless of what happens in districts, but the Buccaneers have to be the favorites after dropping just two games all season long.
Cardinal Newman – Team Page
The Crusaders also feature several future collegiate stars and might be the biggest threat to the Buccaneers in the district.
Gabriel Acevedo is the hits leader on the team with 24 base knocks, including a triple and two home runs. Cameron Kimbrell (West Florida) is tied with Vance Sheehan (South Carolina) for second place with 22 hits apiece; the duo has driven in a combined 34 runs.
On the mound, Cardinal Newman relies on Trevor Robb (Embry-Riddle) the most. His 2.30 ERA through 42.2 innings is the stuff of a true ace, and Jack Mischke is a nice complement out of the bullpen most nights with a 1.60 ERA and 54 strikeouts through 30.2 innings. Jayden Martin is the other trusted arm out of the bullpen with 29.1 innings under his belt. Florida commit Sam Lovitz hadn’t pitched all year, but he threw 0.2 innings of relief in the final game of the season and could be a major addition to the staff in the playoffs.
King’s Academy won’t be an easy matchup in the semifinals, which could use up a few arms that Cardinal Newman would like to have against Benjamin. Still, this team is incredibly deep and built for a playoff run. A regional appearance seems likely with a district appearance and perhaps possible without one.
King’s Academy – Team Page
The Lions have struggled against teams with a winning record this season and a pair of regular-season losses to Benjamin likely means a district semifinal appearance would end similarly for them. Still, there’s a chance to upset Cardinal Newman in the semifinal round, which would boost the Lions’ chances of making the regional tournament.
Don’t let the 7-8 record fool you, though. King’s Academy has been competitive in each of its four seasons under former major league Jarrod Saltalamacchia. As one might expect, the Lions usually have an elite catcher or two to help guide the pitching staff.
Lincoln Park – Team Page
The Greyhounds only won six games this season, but it was enough to grant them home-field advantage in the quarterfinals against Oxbridge Academy. Lincoln Park ended last season with a district quarterfinal loss to Oxbridge Academy, so this is a shot at redemption for the returning players and staff.
Senior Jakob Warren leads the team with 19 hits and 12 runs batted in at the plate and 32 strikeouts as a pitcher through 32 innings.
Avenging last year’s loss to Oxbridge Academy feels doable. Let’s see what the Greyhounds can do!
Oxbridge Academy – Team Page
The Thunderwolves have a pair of wins on the year and are looking to make it three with a win in the district quarterfinals over Lincoln Park. Oxbridge Academy got the job done last year, and a playoff win would be a nice boost after a 2-14 regular season.
Junior Mason Van Dieken and senior Andrew Schaefer are each batting .325 or better with 13 hits apiece. Schaefer is also the team’s top arm with 34 strikeouts through 24 innings.
Oxbridge Academy has played a fairly tough schedule, which could provide an advantage against Lincoln Park. The matchup feels like it could go either way, but pitching will make the difference.