Club Doug’s junior varsity baseball team ends successful season with nearly undefeated record

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Carolina Ochoa Lozano

Pitcher Gabriel Jardine (77) finishes his pitching motion in the team’s March 19 match against Cardinal Gibbons. The team went on to win the game 3-1 after the Eagles’ pitching staff through a combined 14 strikeouts.

Reece Gary, Sports editor

Heading into the season, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas junior varsity baseball team had high hopes as they introduced numerous new talents into the program.

Known as Club Doug, the MSD baseball program sought to build both their new and returning players into prosperous and determined athletes, those of which would be able to lead the team to a championship in upcoming years.

The team prepared for their season through countless practices and exhibition matches throughout the school year, all looking forward to their first match which occurred on Saturday, Feb. 19, at Archbishop McCarthy. The Eagles had a lot to prove in their first match, especially with many new faces looking to demonstrate their future impact on the program. As a result, the team showed huge strength on both offense and defense, winning their first game by a score of 16-1.

The Eagles’ first game was an evident preview of their season, as some of the team’s greatest contributors showcased their talents. First baseman Nick Diaz (9), outfielder Reese Burton (14), catcher Grant Harrisson (6), pitcher and outfielder Jonathan Rodriguez (10), outfielder Gabe Rodrigo (26) and second baseman Riley Mudlin (22) led the team’s offense, all scoring runs through hits. On the defensive side, the team was led by pitchers Bennett Gary (55) and Vinny Toloza (20), who combined for ten strikeouts throughout their dominant pitching performances.

“The team was really dominant this season, especially our pitchers. We ended the season holding a .143 batting average of our opponents against our pitching staff, proving that pitching was a key role towards our success,” Gary said.

The next two matches of the season came as a double-header, with the team playing against West Broward on Saturday, Feb. 26 in back-to-back games. The team was led by pitchers J. Rodriguez, Brayden McClusky (5) and Breylynn Courtney (21) on the mound in their victories, while the rest of the team contributed their part through numerous offensive forces in 7-2 and 8-1 wins.

“We all made our own contributions to winning,” shortstop Erick Torres (24) said, “It wasn’t just one single player to win a game, we all contributed in some way, shape or form.”

Moving into March, the team headed back to Archbishop McCarthy for a rematch of their first game. The Eagles ultimately repeated a dominant win over the opposition, winning 8-0. The team was led by pitcher Luke Cherry’s (7) five-strikeout start on the mound, along with several offensive contributions, including two RBI’s from Gary.

The team then went on to face Taravella in another double-header, winning 12-1 and 6-0 in assertive fashion. However, the team’s strong momentum was brought to a halt in their following game.

On Wednesday, March 9, the Eagles faced St. John Paul II Academy, which proved to be their toughest match of the season. The Eagles only managed to put together four hits, leading to a 6-1 loss. Despite this setback, the team moved forward in order to continue their winning record.

To bounce back after their loss, the Eagles played to their best ability in another double-header on Saturday, March 12, against Flanagan. The Eagles won their two games by scores of 15-7 and 10-1, as their offense racked in numerous hits for runs, including third baseman Matt Whittle (3) scoring five RBI’s in the first game and Torres scoring three RBI’s in the second. On the mound, the team was led by five members of their pitching staff, with McClusky being the most notable as he threw for nine strikeouts in his start.

The Eagles progressed into another win against Taravella, defeating their opponents by a score of 8-2. Pitchers Gary and Cherry combined for 11 strikeouts in the game, allowing the Eagles’ offense to take advantage of their opponent’s low scoring.

According to Diaz, the team’s victories over Taravella became prominent memories of the team’s season as the team was able to build both chemistry and athletic skills in exciting fashion to best one of their top rivals.

Heading into Saturday, March 19, the Eagles prepared for another double-header, this time against Cardinal Gibbons. The team saw fairly easy victories over their opponent, winning their games by scores of 3-1 and 8-2. Throughout the two games, the Eagles’ pitching staff combined for 23 strikeouts, showing defensive dominance in the series’ duration.

To finish their successful run in March, the Eagles visited American Heritage Delray Beach, which resulted in a close 9-6 match. The score remained a low 2-1 for most of the match, that was until both teams caught fire as each went on to have seven and five run innings, respectively.

As the Eagles’ season approached its near end, the team looked towards their final four matches, those of which would come in a pair of double-header games.

On Saturday, April 2, the Eagles made their way to Western, at which they would complete two shutout games. Led by McClusky and Cherry, the Eagles’ pitching staff gave up no runs during the series, allowing the offense to build off the defense’s momentum.

With an eight-game winning streak, the Eagles went into their final two matches in back-to-back games against West Boca Raton on Saturday, April 9. The Eagles sought to end their season in dominant fashion, that of which they accomplished in 11-1 and 5-1 victories.

Throughout the season, the junior varsity Eagles saw little downfalls and obstacles, ultimately allowing the team to show off their skills against all opposing teams. Falling just a single game short of an undefeated record, the team seeks to improve on their already successful talents in order to result in an even more prosperous season next year.

“We just came together a lot, and we have a great bond, simply put,” Torres said, “We got to know each other well both in school and out of school.”

The Eagles were carried throughout the season’s duration by their chemistry and ability to work as a whole. Building relationships that will carry for following years, the team seeks to continue their teamwork and sportsmanship as they develop their skills and talents to become the new faces of the Club Doug program.