Posted: 10:23 am Monday, April 18th, 2011

Baseball: Seminole Ridge’s Farjad a tough matchup in 9-6A tournament 

By Matt Porter

On Friday, before the District 9-6A tournament picture came into focus, Seminole Ridge coach Trent Pendergast laid out his team’s possible first-round opponents.

The Hawks, he said, are a better matchup for a big-swinging team like Palm Beach Gardens than a scrappy, athletic team like Park Vista. Santaluces, he said, is a bad matchup for anyone in the first round. Jupiter is a bad matchup for anyone, anytime.

Pendergast didn’t express a wish to play anyone in particular, but if past results are any indication, he’ll feel good about his chances against Palm Beach Gardens in the first round.

Seminole Ridge ace T.J. Farjad can be unhittable at times. (Courtesy photo)

Seminole Ridge ace T.J. Farjad can be unhittable at times. (Courtesy photo)

Rather than face Park Vista, which dominated Seminole Ridge in all facets in an 8-0 win April 8, the Hawks will host Gardens in the No. 4 vs. No. 5 matchup. In their last meeting March 10, ace T.J. Farjad struck out 14 Gators in a 2-1 win, outgunning Gardens ace J.D. Underwood.

Palm Beach Gardens hopes Farjad doesn’t have any new tricks up his sleeve Tuesday, and chances are he won’t. Farjad, a dare-you-to-hit-it lefthander who works in the mid-80s, brings a late-life fastball and mixes in curves as he goes along. It’s nothing fancy, but it works: he’s second in the area in strikeouts (95 in 55.1 innings), has a 5-1 record and a 1.51 ERA.

Behind Farjad, who is signed with Palm Beach State, the Hawks have Kenny Miranda and lefty Danny Magierowski, both of whom are signed to Nova Southeastern.

Aside from their ace, the Hawks’ key player is shortstop Marcus Mooney. Mooney, a 5-foot-9, 150-pound junior, has been at the top of the area’s batting leaders all season, with an average hovering around .500 (he’s currently hitting .493, to go with two homers and 17 RBI). He plays a rangy, sometimes-flashy shortstop and has a strong arm.

That player profile might sound familiar. Mooney’s brother Peter is the starting shortstop for South Carolina, and his brother Mike was the starting shortstop at Florida and now plays in the Baltimore Orioles’ system, currently with the Single-A Delmarva (Md.) Shorebirds. The youngest Mooney hasn’t committed to a college, and it looks like he might try the route of his two older brothers, from Seminole Ridge to Palm Beach State to a Div. I school. Clearly, Peter Sr. and Michelle Mooney are pretty good at raising shortstops.

Mooney hits second in the Hawks’ lineup, behind leadoff man and center fielder Mike Roy (.403), a senior, in front of strong left fielder Courtney King (.400) a junior. Senior catcher Robert Henderson (.375) and senior second baseman J.J. Salazar (.364) have contributed at the plate.

They’re healthy and have been hitting, but defense is the main concern for the Hawks, who booted the ball around in that 8-0 loss to Park Vista. If they do that Tuesday, it may not matter if Farjad has his best stuff. Then again, if Farjad isn’t giving Gardens a chance, the Hawks might be moving on.

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