Baseball: Regional quarterfinals unkind to area programs
| 8:45 a.m. May 7, 2015
Of the four West Orange-area baseball teams that earned a place in the FHSAA Regional Playoffs for their respective classifications, three suffered season-ending losses within a span of about 24 hours.
No, the regional quarterfinals were not kind to the clubs from West Orange, as Central Florida Christian Academy (Class 2A), Windermere Prep (Class 3A) and Dr. Phillips (Class 8A) all fell on April 29 or 30.
The lone survivor to advance to the regional semifinals was Olympia in Class 8A. The Titans (26-1), ranked No. 2 in the nation now by MaxPreps after suffering their first loss of the season in the district final against Apopka, defeated Dr. Phillips on April 29, 3-1 — rallying back after trailing early.
Olympia hosted Boone Tuesday afternoon in the Class 8A Region 1 Semifinals, earning a 3-1 victory to advance to the regional championship on May 12.
For Panthers coach Mike Bradley, the season-ending defeat to a neighborhood rival was tough but made easier because of the way his team — which struggled at times this spring, finishing with a 15-13 record — competed in its final game against the No. 2 team in the country.
“I don’t think there’s anything more we could’ve done,” Bradley said. “Our kids competed from pitch No. 1 to the last pitch of the game. We didn’t give anything away. You’ve got to credit Olympia: They’re a darn good baseball team. Sometimes, in the game of baseball, you just get beat.”
CFCA took to the road April 29, traveling to take on Seven Rivers Christian in Lecanto. The Eagles, who finished below .500 at 10-17, competed well in their final game of the season, falling 2-1 in a close ballgame.
Of the three teams to suffer defeat, it was Windermere Prep, which hosted Father Lopez Catholic on April 30, that could be the one program with reason to be disappointed.
Father Lopez came into the regional matchup with the Lakers, who were 20-3 at the time, just over .500 at 16-14. Despite being an underdog, the visitors from Daytona Beach utilized timely hitting to upset Windermere Prep, 7-3.
After trailing 4-0 early, the Lakers cut the lead to one after a bases-clearing double by Julio Montes, but when Father Lopez tacked on another three runs, it effectively sealed the deal to bring home the win.
Although the loss for Windermere Prep was a disappointment for a team that had hopes of reaching the state tournament in Fort Myers, the losses for the Panthers and Eagles could be considered high notes for programs that improved throughout the year.
“I’ve never coached a team with so much adversity from within and from outside,” Bradley said, reflecting on the spring campaign for Dr. Phillips. “This senior class and Matt Sullivan … they said, ‘It’s enough. We’re going to start playing our brand of baseball.’ From that point on, we started playing competitive baseball.”
West Orange, Ocoee and Foundation Academy all fell in the semifinal of their respective district tournaments earlier in April.