Posted: 6:00 pm Monday, March 18th, 2013
By Matt Porter
One team makes the leap from the bottom of the rankings to the middle of the pack, and there’s plenty of action at the bottom of the list. Here’s our view of the area:
The Palm Beach Post Top 10
1. Jupiter (11-0) Allowed more than three runs just three times
2. Palm Beach Central (10-2) Tight wins over Vista, Royal Palm
3. Palm Beach Gardens (10-3) Five wins after three-game losing streak
4. Benjamin (10-2) Can all but clinch district Saturday vs. King’s
5. Park Vista (9-2) Loss to Central showed Cobras’ strength
6. King’s Academy (7-5) Four quality pitchers, stout lineup
7. Wellington (7-6) Played King’s tight, couldn’t seal deal
8. West Boca Raton (6-2) Six wins in a row including Atlantic
9. Atlantic (7-6) Six-game streak snapped by West Boca
10. Dwyer (4-6) Chance to take down Central on Tuesday
On the bubble: Trinity Christian (7-5), John I. Leonard (6-3), Suncoast (5-5), American Heritage (6-7)
Best of the Treasure Coast: Jensen Beach (8-3), Martin County (9-1), John Carroll (9-2)
The obvious choice at the top is Jupiter, which continues to roll on. Not much more to be said about the Warriors … they keep getting it done. I don’t see a road game at Jensen Beach (Wednesday) tripping things up, but the Selective Recruiting tournament next week could pose some problems. That’s talk for next week, though.
Does Palm Beach Central have reason to be worried? The Broncos scored a pair of tight wins last week, beating Park Vista and Royal Palm Beach by identical 4-2 scores. Both clubs are capable – we’ll get to Vista in a moment – so there’s no cause for concern. If Central loses to Dwyer (Tuesday) at home, that’s another story.
Palm Beach Gardens is on a nice run, stringing together five in a row after starting March with a three-game slide (during which it lost to Jupiter and Central). Last week the Gators edged both Jensen Beach and American Heritage by a run before routing Boca Raton 10-0. The Gators should handle business this week against Wellington, Suncoast and Summit Christian – all three games at home — before playing in a tough group at the Florida League Invitational in Sanford.
Rounding out the top four is Benjamin, which can’t seem to beat John Carroll but has dominated everyone else. The Bucs’ two losses, both to the Rams, were 6-2 (Feb. 23) and 5-2 (last Wednesday). Throw out those two non-district losses and the Bucs have outscored their opponents 84-7 this season. Impressive stuff. They can essentially wrap up District 12-3A with a win over King’s Academy on Saturday, but don’t expect them to take the Lions lightly.
Making a big jump this week: Park Vista. We wanted to see how the Cobras played a top-tier team like Central before moving them up too high. We’re convinced. In last Tuesday’s game, Vista was up 2-0 before a four-run 4th inning gave Central a lead it would hold. Couple that with the overall record and we feel fine with the Cobras at No. 5. They will be tested this week against Spanish River and Seminole Ridge, two feisty sub.-500 teams.
King’s Academy and Wellington were about as even as it gets when we watched them play last Thursday. King’s has solid pitching and defense, and has a nice mix of power and production in the lineup. The Lions definitely appear to be past the four-game losing streak they suffered at the beginning of the month. They’ll be looking for revenge Saturday at Benjamin.
Wellington, meanwhile, has lost five of eight after going 4-1 to start the season. They lost three of four District 9-8A games, and last week went 1-1 with a win over Royal Palm and a loss to King’s. In this week’s only game – Tuesday at Gardens — the Wolverines want a better showing than their previous meeting with the Gators, a 6-0 shutout loss to home on Feb. 22.
Another well-acquainted pair occupies our eight and nine slots. West Boca Raton has the edge on Atlantic by virtue of its 4-3 win last Tuesday. The Bulls won on a seventh-inning RBI single, breaking the Eagles’ six-game winning streak. West Boca now has its own streak of a half-dozen wins. Atlantic rebounded with an 11-0 rout of struggling Lake Worth, but has a tough test Tuesday against Santaluces. They’ll play in the Lake Worth Tournament next week.
We’re not ready to boot Dwyer out of the rankings yet. Not with the strength of schedule – take out the four District 9-8A losses and a 4-6 record looks pretty good – and the feeling that the Panthers are playing better.
That said, Trinity Christian is lurking on the outside, and has a chance to bump Dwyer with a win over the Panthers on Friday. John I. Leonard deserves consideration too, having played well in losses to Park Vista and Wellington.
Suncoast opened eyes after hanging in there against Jupiter, and losing one-run games to Wellington, Jensen Beach, Benjamin and Leonard. American Heritage lost to Gardens by a run and is handling business in its district. The Stallions have a huge week, visiting Plantation-American Heritage on Wednesday and hosting Palm Beach Central on Friday.
Those are our rankings. Those are our reasons. What are your thoughts?
Games to Watch
All games at 7 p.m. unless noted
Summit Christian at Pope John Paul II, 4 p.m.
Dwyer at Palm Beach Central, 4:30 p.m.
Wellington at Palm Beach Gardens
Royal Palm Beach at John I. Leonard
Suncoast at Palm Beach Gardens
Trinity Christian at Dwyer
Palm Beach Central at American Heritage
King’s Academy at Benjamin, 4 p.m.