Palm Beach High School Baseball
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Sleek Leads Royal Palm Beach Over Santaluces 5-1

When Tim Maxwell took over as manager for the Royal Palm Beach program last season, the Wildcats were coming off a 6-16 season. Last year, Royal Palm improved to 10-14, and this year, the program is hoping to continue that upward trajectory.

Wednesday night, the Wildcats took another step in that direction when they defeated Santaluces 5-1, while moving their record back to .500 at 4-4.

Jaxson Fleet was making his first start since early in the season against Spanish River, and the senior delivered a gem of a performance. Sleet escaped trouble in the first inning, then cruised, throwing a complete game, scattering seven hits, while throwing 59 of his 85 pitches for strikes.

“An outstanding performance by Jaxson tonight,” said Maxwell. “He fought through a tough first inning, and then he was lights out after that. Whenever you throw that many strikes, and pitch to contact and let your defense work, you have a great chance to be successful, and Jaxson did that tonight.”

Santaluces came out swinging early, opening the game with four straight singles. Matthew Martinez leadoff with a base hit, and he was followed by Keaton Kangas and Samir Hurtado, who both had hits to load the bases with no outs. An Edinson Cantino infield single brought in Martinez with the first run of the game.

What happened next changed the trajectory of the game. Trevor Malloy drilled a line drive, but it was caught by Wildcats second baseman Robert Gonzalez, and turned into a double play.

After a walk, Sleek induced a ground ball off the bat of Brayden DeCastro, ending the threat.

“We had a chance to jump out early in that first inning with bases loaded, no outs,” said Chiefs Manager Kyle Dahl. “Trevor drilled a ball that if its left or right a few inches, we go up 3-0, and its a different ball game. But that is baseball sometimes.”

After that, Sleek settled in, allowing only three hits over the next six innings.

“Hat’s off to their guy tonight on the mound,” said Dahl. “He did a great job of keeping us off balance all night after that first inning. He mixed up his pitches, and we couldn’t adjust.”

Royal Palm Beach took advantage of some defensive mental mistakes to chip away at Santaluces starter Aiden Nelson, scoring two runs in the second, one in the third, and two more in the fourth. Brendon Marchese drove in two runs, and Jaxon Gelb had two hits for the Wildcats.

Santaluces drops their first game since winning two in a row, and despite the loss, Dahl believes the Chiefs are heading in the right direction.

“We had a rough start to the season in the Santaluces Slam, and then after winning a game, we had a tough stretch. We had been playing better of late, winning two in a row, and then we were in this game, and things didn’t go our way. It is very early in the season, and we want to keep getting better. You don’t want to be playing your best ball early, you want to build and be ready at playoff time, so we are heading towards that.”

For Royal Palm, the win gets them back to .500, and they have won four of their past five games.

“We have really bounced back well from losing our first three games,” said Maxwell. “We are hot right now, and have won four of our last five. We have a big test Friday night when we face Suncoast.”

That indeed, will be a big game for the Wildcats, with the Chargers coming in ranked 4th in the HSBN Palm Beach Power Rankings that were released this week.

Santaluces will be at home Friday against longtime district rival Park Vista.

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