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St. John Paul II Avenges District Loss To CS Charter

Saint John Paul II advanced to the 2023 regional semifinals with a 6-2 win over Coral Springs Charter on Tuesday.

After falling to Coral Springs Charter in the 3A-12 semifinals, the St. John Paul II Eagles made good on a second chance against the Panthers in the regional quarterfinals on Tuesday with a 6-2 win.

Sophomore Connor Cavo once again got the start and dazzled over 5 2/3 innings. He struck out four along the way and only gave up two runs (one earned) on two hits and two walks. John Rodriguez finished off the final 1 1/3 innings on the mound, striking out two and holding the Panthers scoreless.

Offensively, it was a team effort. All but one starter hit safely during the game, and Thomas Velardi led the way with a pair of base knocks, including a triple. Catcher Dom Rivara and second baseman Chase Calloway each had two runs batted in to lead the team as well.

“We have been struggling offensively the last few weeks of the season, but our team has continued to work hard in practice to get back on track and tonight we did,” Eagles manager Peter Graffeo said. “I want to congratulate Coach Boling and his team on a great season. They are an excellent and well-coached baseball team.”

CS Charter scored first on a sacrifice fly in the opening frame, but the Panthers didn’t cross home plate again until the bottom of the sixth. A four-spot in the third, courtesy of Calloway and Rivara, was all the Eagles really needed with Cavo dealing on the mound. An error scored the two insurance runs for St. John Paul II in the top of the sixth.

David Austen started for Coral Springs Charter after shutting out the Eagles in a complete-game effort last week, but he couldn’t repeat his performance. Dylan Applebaum came in for him after the four runs scored, and Chase Wildroudt got the final 1 2/3 innings of the game. Applebaum and Wildroudt each struck out three.

Moving forward, St. John Paul II gets a shot at the reigning Class 3A state champion North Broward Prep Eagles on Friday. The regular season contest didn’t go their way, but things could change in the regional semis.

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