The Patriot baseball team showed a ton of guts in a gritty 2-1 victory over what is considered one of the, if not the, top teams in the country in American Heritage from Plantation, Florida. American Heritage, also named the Patriots, boast the Under 18 national player of the year, along with 13 other college signees/commitments. The John Curtis Patriots’ Will Ripoll was a tough challenge against the Patriots from Florida. Ripoll pitched 6 and 1/3 innings and the defense was sparkling, once again.
The Patriots were able to break through in the top of the 4th inning when Ripoll led off with a double over the head of the left fielder. Cade Beloso followed that up with a base hit through the right side to put runners on the corners with none out. Jay Curtis then launched a deep, high fly ball that easily scored courtesy runner Shane Goins from 3rd base for the first run of the game. Beloso tagged up and moved to second base easily, however an appeal was made to first base and the umpire ruled Beloso left early squandering another opportunity to score another run. To add to the frustration, Dax Ford then singled in the next at bat, but it was a harmless hit as the Patriots were retired in the next at bat to end the inning.
American Heritage then tied it up in the bottom of the 5th. Back to back walks by Ripoll put runners on 1st and 2nd with none out. Then a perfectly placed bunt loaded the bases. The next batter hit a high fly ball to right field to score the runner from third, but the throw went to cutoff man Cade Beloso who was able to throw back to 2nd base to catch the runner too far off the bag for a double play. The Patriots survived a bases loaded, no out jam with a 1-1 tie after 5 complete innings.
In the top of the 6th, shortstop Brandon Davis led the inning off with a base hit. Corey Vidrine then placed a bunt perfectly between the pitcher and 3rd baseman to get a bunt base hit and Beloso walked to load the bases up with none out for the Patriots. On the first pitch after a pitching change, the pitcher balked a runner home to give the Patriots a 2-1 lead. That’s all the Patriots could push across.
In the bottom of the 7th, a leadoff base hit put the tying run on and a sacrifice bunt moved him over to 2nd base. Dax Ford then came on in relief of Ripoll. A slow grounder was hit to 2nd base, but the runner was able to beat the throw putting runners on the corners with just one out. Craziness then ensued. The left handed batter checked his swing sending a slow roller to 3rd baseman Jay Curtis. Peaking at the runner on the 3rd base line, Curtis figured he could catch him in “no man’s land” and get him out. He pump faked a throw to 1st, freezing the runner on third in the middle of the baseline. Jay then flipped it to catcher Collin Guggenheim who ran the runner back to 3rd base and flipped it to Brandon Davis for the tag out and 2nd out. The runner from 1st was then trying to get to 3rd base. 2nd baseman Jordin Labruzza was on third and Davis flipped it to him. Davis ran the runner back to 2nd and flipped it to centerfielder Logan Stevens who joined the run down party. Stevens thought he applied the tag, but the ball was somehow on the ground. Stevens showed his glove to the umpire, but the problem is the ball was on the ground. Ripoll, who moved to right field after Ford came on in relief of him then saw the ball on the ground and tagged the runner out for the double play and ended the game! Wow!! What a finish!!
With the win, the Patriots now move into the semi-finals or the Final Four of the National High School Invitational! The game will be streamed live on usabaseball.com tomorrow at 11:00 AM Central Time! Tune in to watch the Patriots try to reach the championship!