When the Santaluces baseball team last beat Park Vista, the Chiefs’ current seniors were in third grade.
Santaluces hasn’t won a game against its nearby district rival since 2009. That is, until Friday.
The No. 3 Chiefs took down the No. 2 Cobras 4-2 in Lantana, earning temporary bragging rights and setting up a coin flip to decide the top seed in the district tournament.
“It’s absolutely the most amazing feeling,” shortstop A.J. Orrico said. “They’re always the biggest game on our schedule. This is always the night we look forward to.”
The two teams were not separated by much.
Santaluces (19-2, 5-1 District 10-9A) started junior Jared Petronis, who entered Friday’s showdown having surrendered only one earned run all season. He allowed his second in the first inning Friday when Cobras second baseman Zach Hurley scored on a single by right fielder Chris Seymour.
But Petronis didn’t break. He gave up one more run in the fourth inning on a suicide-squeeze bunt, but he otherwise held the Cobras (14-5, 5-1) in check. He finished with a four-hitter, striking out five and walking four. He was rewarded with a cooler full of ice being dumped on him after the game.
“He doesn’t get rattled,” Santaluces coach Nick Franco said. “He’s got, like, ice in his veins.”
Petronis’ opponent was Park Vista’s Brendan Bell, a Florida Gulf Coast commit. Bell’s 88-92 m.p.h. fastball and sharp-breaking slider were effective at times, but the Chiefs wreaked havoc on the basepaths.
Center fielder M.J. Restivo got the Chiefs’ first hit in the first inning, stole third and scored when the catchers’ throw rolled to the outfield. Restivo drove in the second run, too, after designated hitter Michael Etchells stole second and the throw bounced off his helmet, allowing him to reach third and score on a Restivo single.
Right fielder Eathyn Little scored Santaluces’ third run after an error allowed him to reach base, moving up to second on a passed ball and later scoring on a wild pitch. Orrico scored the team’s final run after drawing a walk, stealing two bases and scoring on a sacrifice fly.
“There’s something different about this year’s team,” Franco said.
No. 1 Benjamin 10, Cardinal Newman 0: Kris Armstrong struck out six in three hitless innings and was 2-for-3 with an RBI, Matt Lopes was 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two stolen bases and Aaron Steinhart went 2-for-2 with an RBI as the Buccaneers handled the Crusaders in West Palm Beach.
No. 9 Palm Beach Central 10, King’s Academy 0 (5): C.J. Kayfus, James Meyers and Michael Brooks combined on a no-hitter and Hal Francisco and Jason Neff each went 3-for-3 as the Broncos (14-7) stopped the Lions in Wellington.