MSD varsity baseball team earns 20th consecutive victory against Key West High School


Jackie Destefano

Outfielder Christian Rodriguez (10) takes a lead in between bases. The Eagles beat the Key West Conchs by score of 13-2.

Ryan Shimony and Reece Gary

Coming in with an undefeated record of 19-0, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School varsity baseball team hosted the Key West High School Conchs on Thursday, April 20. Already having a successful season, the Eagles looked to march forward on their path to playoffs in May, maintaining their undefeated title with only three games left in the regular season.

The Conchs entered the game with a 15-4 record, and they sought to take down the top-ranked Eagles. However, having home field advantage, the Eagles sought to build upon their season-long momentum.

At 6:30 p.m., the first inning began, and the Eagles started pitcher Jayden Dubanewicz (27) on the mound. Despite loading the bases, Dubanewicz was able to get out of the first inning with two strikeouts and no runs given up, allowing the Eagles to step up to the plate.

To start the Eagles’ first offensive inning, center fielder Alex Rodriguez (13) and shortstop Devin Fitz-Gerald (3) earned singles. In the following at-bat, third baseman Rylan Lujo (14) hit a sacrifice fly ball, scoring Rodriguez to give the Eagles an early lead. Hit after hit, the Eagles were rallied by cheering teammates in the dugout.

“Our team did a great job of adjusting to certain pitches and getting big and timely hits when we needed them,” Fitz-Gerald said. “Our dugout is unmatched, so a lot comes from there to help our team succeed offensively and defensively. The energy plays a big part.”

After outfielder Christian Rodriguez reached first base, first baseman Matthew Ossenfort (17) hit a sacrifice ground ball to score Fitz-Gerald.

With C. Rodriguez still on base, catcher Niko Benestad (6) hit a home run over the left field wall to increase the Eagles’ lead further. At the end of the first inning, the Eagles led with a score of 4-0.

In another two-strikeout inning, Dubanewicz pitched three batters in the second inning, allowing for the Eagles to gain greater momentum entering their second inning at the plate.

In their second at-bats, A. Rodriguez singled to right field, allowing Fitz-Gerald to score two runs on a home run.

“The thing I did best was having a great approach at the plate, staying comfortable in the box and going up to the plate with a plan,” Fitz-Gerald said. “I was looking for a pitch in my zone, driving it and not letting myself get beat.”

The second inning ended with the Eagles in a 6-0 lead.

After giving up a walk, the Eagles started the third inning with a double-play, showcasing the team’s defensive abilities and chemistry. The Eagles gave up no runs in the inning.

Back on offense, the Eagles scored their seventh run by Ossenfort running home on an error by the Conchs’ catcher.

With a 7-0 lead, the Eagles sought to keep the Conchs at no runs and increase the run difference in the fourth inning. After a quick four-batter inning for the Conchs’ offense, the Eagles were back on offense.

At the inning’s start, A. Rodriguez doubled, eventually scoring from a single by Fitz-Gerald. Soon after, Lujo walked, allowing two runners to be left on base for Ossenfort. In a line drive, Ossenfort hit a home run to extend the Eagles’ lead to 11.

To start the fifth inning, the Eagles brought in pitcher Brayden McCluskey (5). Dubanewicz finished his four innings on the mound with five strikeouts, only giving up two hits.

“As a team, we kept the energy high all game,” McCluskey said. “It’s very easy to plateau and fall off, but we stayed hyped and kept putting runs on the board.”

Early in the inning, the Conchs were put on the scoreboard by a solo home run. After McCluskey gave up a single and a walk, the Eagles placed pitcher Luke Cherry (1) to close the game in its final couple innings.

Cherry gave up a single to score another Conchs runner but struck out the next batter to end the inning. After a scoreless offensive inning for the Eagles, the fifth inning concluded with a score of 11-2.

Cherry pitched a two-strikeout and scoreless inning in the sixth, giving the Eagles the opportunity to end the game by mercy if they scored two runs.

Fitz-Gerald walked to start the inning, allowing Lujo to step up to the plate as the game-winning run. Lujo capitalized on the moment, hitting a home run to score both Fitz-Gerald and himself.

With the Eagles in an 11-run lead, the game was concluded by mercy rule. The Eagles ended with a dominant lead of 13-2.

The Eagles added to their undefeated record to become 20-0, and they look to continue their winning streak in their next game on Tuesday, April 25, where they will host Hialeah Educational Academy.