VERO BEACH – St. Lucie West Centennial weathered a 45-minute rain delay and a seventh-inning rally from Vero Beach to win the district championship game, 4-3
Centennial pitcher Kristian Romance threw a complete game, allowing three runs on five hits, while striking out seven batters. Losing pitcher Eric Erico fell to 4-6 on the season, allowing four runs on four hits and striking out four batters in four innings of work. Alex Dermody came on in relief after the rain delay and pitched two scoreless, hitless innings. “We decided to change pitchers after the 45-minute delay because (Enrico) had a pitch count of 80 pitches,” Vero Beach coach Jeff Steinman said. “I thought it would be too hard on him to put him back in. (Dermody) came in and did a pretty good job, but we just haven’t been able to come up with a key hit here lately. That’s the third game in the last few where we’ve out-hit our opponents, but that’s not the most important number on the scoreboard.”
Both teams appeared to have problems throwing the ball once the rain started to come down, as both teams registered two throwing-related errors. For Vero Beach, it was a game where breaks were few and far between.
“Balls just missed going out of the park, or missed being fair right down the line,” Steinman said, referring to Austin Green’s RBI double with two outs in the seventh inning which missed being a game-tying home run by a matter of a foot or two.
“The baseball gods kinda teased us today. We got a lead, then we gave it up. We got rain, thought the game was going to be suspended due to rain, then we found out we had to play.”
“It’s nice the kids battled until the end, but it seemed like inches or feet each time,” Steinman added. “We gave ourselves a chance to win at the end, and that’s all we can do.”
Vero will travel to Orlando next week to play the winner of Friday’s Dr. Phillips-West Orange district championship game.
“It’s good to be in the district championship game again, but it would have been nice to win that championship and play at home,” Steinman said. “We’re going to get on a bus and do our best in Orlando. It will be difficult because our district is not only small, it is fairly weak. Their district has nine teams in it and is really strong. I’ve got a couple of days to regroup, and I’ve already started scouting a little bit. We know we’ve got a difficult task, but we’ve got a few days to prepare.”