MSD varsity baseball team maintains undefeated record with three-win week including two consecutive mercy-rule victories


Carolina Ochoa Lozano

Pitcher Jayden Dubanewicz (27) eyes his catcher before a pitch as closing pitcher. Dubanewicz gave up no hits and tallied a strikeout as he closed out the MSD varsity baseball team’s game against Monsignor Edward Pace High School.

Reece Gary, Senior Sports Editor

After five consecutive victories to begin their season with a 5-0 record, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School varsity baseball team faced a string of two games in a single week. On Tuesday, March 7, the Eagles went against local rival Deerfield Beach High School, on Thursday, March 9, they played against the Miller School of Albemarle coming from Charlottesville, Virginia and on Friday, March 10, they opposed Monsignor Edward Pace High School.

At 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the Eagles’ first batter of the week, center fielder Alex Rodriguez (13), led off against the opposing Deerfield Bucks pitcher. Rodriguez walked during the at-bat, leading to him rounding the bases to score after another walk and a passed ball.

In the following at-bat, the Deerfield pitcher balked, allowing infielder Jacob Herzberg (4) to score. The top of the first inning ended with the Eagles up by a score of 2-0.

A scoreless inning for the Bucks allowed momentum to continue for the Eagles, and a double by infielder Erick Torres (42) allowed outfielder Dillon Moquin (15) to score. In the next at-bat, a wild passed ball allowed Torres to score. Shortly following, a quick four-batter inning for the Deerfield offense ended the second inning with the Eagles ahead 4-0.

To start the third inning, first baseman Matthew Ossenfort (17) singled and shortstop Devin Fitz-Gerald (3) walked, putting them on base. After a single by outfielder Jackson Abram (23) to left field, Ossenfort scored. Soon after, Fitz-Gerald scored after a double by Moquin. In the final at-bat of the inning, Abram scored on a past ball. The third inning ended with a score of 7-0.

With a commanding lead, Eagles’ pitcher Brayden McClusky (5) kept the team ahead by a large margin, striking out two opposing batters of the six he would total in the game.

The Eagles continued to dominate the Bucks offensively and defensively in the fourth inning. Third baseman Rylan Lujo (14) hit a two-run home run, increasing the Eagles’ lead to 9-0, and pitcher Luke Cherry (1) replaced McClusky, maintaining the no-hit pitching performance.

In the fifth inning, the Eagles closed out the game early by putting up five more runs, causing a mercy rule. Outfielder Reese Burton (21), catcher Andrew Freeman (9) and outfielder Gavin Gargiulo (8) earned RBIs, and Lujo and Fitz-Gerald walked to total the final five runs for the Eagles offense.

With the Cherry finishing the game in a combined no-hitter, the Eagles took a 14-0 victory. With the mercy-rule win, the Eagles looked forward to their next two games of the week with a similar strategy.

“We work really well together as a team,” outfielder Reese Burton (21) said. “We play by using each other’s strengths.”

Playing at home for their Thursday game, the Eagles sought another victory for the week against their out-of-state opponent, the Miller School of Albemarle Mavericks. The Eagles started Ossenfort at pitcher, who looked to capitalize on his week that already included three runs towards the Eagles’ 14.

Ossenfort started the game strong, earning two strikeouts in the first inning. Ossenfort continued to dominate on both sides of the field as he hit a two-run home run to give the Eagles an early lead.

Unfortunately for the Eagles, their shut-out week ended as the Mavericks pieced together a run by a passed ball in the second inning.

However, the near-comeback for the opponent did not stop the Eagles. On offense in the second inning, the Eagles scored five runs in four consecutive at-bats. To start the streak, Torres and Rodriguez walked, scoring first baseman Christian Rodriguez (10) and Abram. Then, Fitz-Gerald grounded into a fielder’s choice, but an error by the Mavericks allowed Torres and A. Rodriguez to score. In the following at-bat, Lujo hit an errored ground ball, allowing Fitz-Gerald to score.

Towards the end of the inning, the Eagles put together two more runs. Lujo scored on a passed ball, and pinch runner Alex Lazar (2) scored on a walk from Moquin. At the end of the second inning, the Eagles proved to be the better team, obtaining a 9-1 lead. In the third inning, the Eagles scored once more after a home run by Lujo, making the score 10-1.

With the Eagles looking to win in dominant fashion, Cherry was placed at pitcher to close out his second game of the week. Similar to the first game, the Eagles soon mercy-ruled their opponent in the inning to follow.

The Eagles scored five more runs in three consecutive batters as A. Rodriguez walked, Fitz-Gerald singled, and Lujo doubled. Lujo’s double brought in three runs, increasing their lead to 15-1.

As the fourth inning continued, Freeman hit a ground ball that the Maverick defense errored. In doing so, infielder Riley Mudlin (26) scored to give the Eagles an increased lead, enough for a mercy-rule. The game concluded after the score, giving the Eagles their second win of the week by a score of 16-1.

“Obviously, when we win it’s always good, but it was one of our going-through-the-motions games,” coach Todd Fitz-Gerald said.

The next day, the Monsignor Edward Pace Spartans hosted the Eagles for their final game of the week. As the away team, the Eagles batted first and jumped on the opportunity to get an early lead. First baseman Niko Benestad (6) grounded out to third base; however, A. Rodriguez scored on the out.

In the bottom of the first inning, C. Rodriguez threw two strikeouts as the Eagles’ starting pitcher. C. Rodriguez would go on to throw 11 strikeouts during the game, holding off the opposing Spartans significantly.

No teams scored until the third inning, where Lujo hit his second home run of the week to increase the score to 2-0 in favor of the Eagles.

In a defensive showdown, both teams were held to zero runs throughout the fourth inning’s entirety. Eventually, in the fifth inning, Benestad scored on a passed ball to bring the score to 3-0.

As the Eagles sought to put the Spartans down in another scoreless inning, Spartans’ second baseman Dyson Joseph (7) hit a home run to put his team on the board.

However, the Eagles earned their lost run back almost immediately, scoring again in the following inning. After a single from Benestad, A. Rodriguez and Lujo both scored, bringing the Eagles to a four-run lead.

The Spartans returned on offense, scoring two runs in the sixth inning on a double and an error. With a close score of 5-3 and the Eagles entering the seventh and final inning, they sought to capitalize on their lead and take home a victory.

After C. Rodriguez singled, A. Rodriguez earned a hit to score him. The seventh inning ended with a score of 6-3, and the Eagles closed out their final game of the week in a short three-batter inning from closing pitcher Jayden Dubanewicz (27).

“We’ve been playing really well this season, but we’ve also shown that we can have a lot of fun,” Burton said.

In three consecutive wins, the Eagles finished a successful three-game week. With an undefeated record of 8-0, the Eagles make efforts towards a complete undefeated season and their third national championship in a row. The Eagles will play Western High School on Wednesday, March 15, at 6:30 p.m.