Posted: 8:43 pm Thursday, May 8th, 2014

Baseball: Inside the regional finals 

By Anthony Chiang

Teams are just one win away from a trip to Fort Myers for the state tournament.

Park Vista is one away from its first state baseball tournament since 2011. (Photo by Damon Higgins)

Only one local team is hosting a regional final, as Dwyer and Atlantic Christian have to travel to different counties to play their games. How many teams from Palm Beach County do you see advancing to Fort Myers?

Here are the matchups involving area teams:

Class 8A

Parkland-Douglas (18-8) at Park Vista (25-3), Friday at 7 p.m.

Breakdown: After deciding to start Bruce Bechtel in the regional semifinals, a rested Park Vista ace Austin Smith will be ready to start on the mound against Douglas. This is very good news for the Cobras. Smith is a perfect 11-0 this season with a miniscule 0.11 ERA and 0.79 WHIP. Park Vista’s bats have been hot, too. The Cobras have scored 54 runs over their current five-game winning streak. But Douglas will pose a challenge, as the Eagles have earned quality wins over American Heritage and Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas this season.

Prediction: I’ve learned one thing this season — don’t ever pick against Austin Smith. He has been the best pitcher in the county and he’ll lead Park Vista to its first trip to the state finals since 2011.

Class 7A

Dwyer (19-7) at Hialeah-American (23-5), Friday at 4 p.m.

Breakdown: The Panthers don’t only have to travel 74 miles to play this game, they will also have to face one of the most talented teams in the state. American returns eight starters from last season’s team that reached the state semifinals, including Miami commit Roman Gonzalez and Kansas State commit Kevin Williams. But if left-hander Tom Szapucki can pitch for Dwyer, the Panthers have a chance. Szapucki, who has a 3-1 record and a 1.02 ERA, has not pitched in the postseason due to a back injury, but there is a possibility he could take the mound Friday. If Dwyer can win this game, it will reach the state finals for the first time in program history.

Prediction: American will end Dwyer’s historic season. Patriots win 4-2.

Class 2A

Atlantic Christian (10-8) at Naples-Seacrest Country Day (19-8), Tuesday at 4 p.m.

Breakdown: Atlantic Christian, formally known as Summit Christian, is determined to start its own baseball tradition. Under the name of Summit Christian, the program won two state titles. After losing three of its final four regular-season games, Atlantic Christian is on a two-game winning streak. The Saints earned an extra-inning win over Vero Beach-Master’s Academy in the regional semifinals to get to this point.

Prediction: Seacrest Country Day earns a win over Atlantic Christian in a wild 8-7 game.

0 comments