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Jupiter Wins Santaluces Slam In Dominant Fashion Over Dwyer

Last season, after having reached the state semifinals and the regional finals in 2023 and 2022, respectively, Palm Beach Gardens experienced their first rebuild in a long while. The Gators won only four games, and the once-proud program was suddenly searching for answers heading into the 2024 season.

After an offseason of work, Gardens finally was able to get back on the field this week, and all they did in their first week of action in the new season, was gain half the wins they had in 2023. The Gators capped a 2-1 week on Friday night with a brilliant combined pitching performance from Cam Carpenter and Luis Valencia. The pair combined to no-hit perennial Broward state contender Taravella, on their way to a 2-1 win.

Carpenter found himself in several jams early in the game. In the first, a walk and a hit by pitch put runners on first and second, but Carpenter struck out JC Martinez, and then got Nate Carroll to line out to center to end the threat.

In the second, an error and a walk again put runners on first and second for the Trojans, but Carpenter wiggled out of the jam when EJ Burns flew out to end the threat.

Errors and walks led to Taravella finally breaking through in the third, but Valencia relieved Carpenter and worked out of the jam with an inning-ending ground ball.

While the gators were flirting with trouble throughout the early part of the game, the Trojans Martinez, who started the game on the hill, was cruising. In the fifth, after two quick outs, Drew Campbell hit what seemed like an innocent two-out single at the time. Sophomore Tony Bieber then delivered what would become the turning point of the game when he launched a two-run home run to right field, giving the Gators a 2-1 lead.

From there, it was all Valencia, as he was flawless in the final three frames, setting down all nine Trojans he faced in order.

The win caps a wild first week for Gardens. They opened the season with a 15-7 win over Royal Palm Beach, then were blown out by West Boca 19-2. The win over Taravella gives the Gators momentum and confidence heading into a week where they will host Suncoast, before hosting rival Palm Beach Central on Friday night.

While the Trojans took their first loss of the season, it became clear in their first week that pitching would be dominant. Taravella gave up five runs in three games. It also was a rare situation where a team would play five games in one week.

The Trojans played their preseason games in Key West last weekend, before defeating South Broward (9-2) and Deerfield Beach (11-1), earlier this week.

Taravella will start next week with their opener of the BCAA Tournament against a Coral Springs Charter team that went 3-1 in the seasons first week.

It has not been an easy offseason for the Jupiter Warriors. In the fall, the Warriors had to deal with a coaching change for the first time in 19 years. Kyle Young, who has been at Jupiter for 10 seasons, took over for former Manager Andy Mook, who led the Warriors for 19 years.

In a move that may have rattled many teams, the Warriors took it as a time to bond together, and in their first week with a new manager in nearly two decades, they showed that they will be a team to be taken seriously in 2024.

After winning tight games earlier in the week against Wellington and Santaluces, Jupiter capped a perfect 3-0 week Friday night, capturing the Santaluces Slam championship with a dominating 8-1 win over crosstown rival Dwyer.

Jupiter wasted no time making their presence known in the title game, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first. Mason Barela had a one out walk, then scored the first run of the game on a Colton Schwarz double. RBI singles by Brady Blanks and Gabe Graulau made it 3-0 early.

In the third, Blanks homered to lead off the inning, and a fielder’s choice later in the inning would bring in run number five.

A double-steal attempt in the top of the fourth brought in Jackson Miller with the Panthers first earned run off Warriors starter Liam Fitzgerald.

In the sixth, the Warriors bats again went to work, with Graulau homering to left, and Andrew Todd delivering an RBI sacrifice fly.

The last run of the game came on an RBI single off the bat of Ryan Senecal in the sixth.

On the day, Jupiter used three pitchers, with Fitzgerald going the first three, allowing only one run. Fitzgerald was followed by two innings from Connor Sorge. Freshman Luke Knight then closed out the final two innings, sending the Warriors home as Slam champions.

Throughout the week, the Warriors outscored their opponents 15-5, and sent notice that despite a coaching change, they still expect to be one o0f the top teams in Palm Beach in 2024.

For Dwyer, the loss capped a bittersweet first week. They also had a coaching change in the off-season, with former MLB pitcher Jordan Yamamoto taking over for the highly successful Alex Morales.

In Yamamoto’s first week, the Panthers 2-1, outscoring their opponents 22-16, and also defeating perennial PB power Park Vista.

Dwyer will turn the page with a four game week coming up, all on the road, against King’s Academy, St. John Neumann, and Cardinal Newman, before a rematch with Jupiter next Friday night.

The Warriors will take their 3-0 record into a two game home week against Martin County and the Panthers.

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