Mark Nichols leads Homestead previous Keys Gate Constitution
It was a big moment in the game that almost never got a chance to happen at all. Homestead’s batsman Mark Nichols had left the game for medical assistance after suffering a cut during a sixth inning goal. But after the game was tied and two runners were up in seventh place, Nicholas returned to the line-up with a tightly bandaged hand that luckily did not prevent him from swinging the bat.
The senior delivered the biggest hit of the day and drove a 1-0 offer deep into the right corner of the field for a triple with two RBI, which finally brought the Broncos back into the lead. Homestead opened the floodgates to score four hits in the seventh run, then prevailed for a 6-3 win over local rivals Keys Gate Charter.
On a fine day of baseball at the Homestead Sports Complex, the two clubs rewarded the many fans in attendance with an exciting and action-packed performance. After the Knights rallied for two runs at the end of the sixth run to level the 2-2, the visiting Broncos responded with a 2-0 win in the seventh. Alexis Yepez left and Francisco Diaz reached for an infield single to bring Nichols to the plate for his big moment.
“It was nothing; it was just a small cut with a lot of blood,” Nichols admitted of his injury. “I got back in and have to be here for my team. I love the game so I came back and did what I could. It’s great and the whole team is cheered on. That’s what the rivalry is about. I started and everyone started to hit the ball and that’s how we got the ‘W’ today. “
Phillip Gil reached out for a mistake to keep things going when Nichols easily scored in the game to extend the lead. Catcher David Munoz then singled, giving in to courtesy runner Steven Gutierrez, and Emmanuel Zarzabal got away with an RBI single to get Gil over the top. David Villafane completed the rating with an RBI single that drove in Gutierrez.
“The children never stopped. That’s why I train and that’s what it’s about, ”said Bruce Berman, Homestead manager. “We don’t have the best years, but we’re sticking to it. The last time we played against them we drew 7-7 and it got dark and we couldn’t finish. Since they are within two miles of us, it’s a rivalry between cities and the kids know each other. The kids didn’t quit, they fought and it was a great victory. “
Zarzabal took the win with an impressive performance on the hill. The right-hander took a no-hitter in the fourth before Knights left fielder Osmany Haya sent a slow roller down the middle for a base goal. Munoz removed that threat with a strong throw to catch Haya trying to steal second place to keep the Broncos (7-10-1) 1-0 ahead.
The Knights (6-16-1) tried their own rally with their last turns. Andy Agudelo scored a mistake in the lead but was dropped due to the choice of an outfield player who put Chris Rodriguez first. Homestead went to Jan Mattei to play the final two outs and the left-hander got a strikeout for the first batsman he faced to flip the line-up. Brandon Espinal was the only one to bring in Rodriguez but was then thrown on the base for the final of the competition.
Zarzabal took the win and improved to 2-4 during the season. He allowed two earned runs with three hits and four walks while recording five strikeouts.
“Big E, he really turned it off today,” said Nichols. “He threw very well and I really wanted him to stay in for the whole thing. But our husband Jan came in and closed it too. The most important thing at the end of the day is the ‘W’. “
While the Knights also know that winning is most important, the club can bring a lot of vital experience to the table for multiple players who recently took on new roles on the squad. Keys Gate is less than two weeks away from participating in a tough district tournament where the team is the second seed and home team against a dangerous Key West team.
“We did a good job dealing with losses and we haven’t had a lot of downtime this season,” said Richard Benavides, assistant coach for the Knights. “We had a lot of people with injuries and grades and this is not even our line-up today, with which we started the season. But the guys are put in situations and a lot is asked of them and they make mistakes. ”
Keys Gate had four errors that day when adjusting to a new defensive alignment. The team also played aggressive and confident baseball, which can give the coaching staff more confidence that they will be able to tweak things to support them when it matters most at the end of the season.
“We can only get ready,” said coach Benavides. “We have a week and a half for districts, and we need to make sure everyone knows their defense duties, the characters, the grassroots, and how to play routine games. If we play routine today and in most games, we win. “
Although most of the way was left behind, there was no panic in the Knights dugout. The third time on the line-up, the team scored two runs that offset the result. Espinal took things up with a great batsman, ran the count up and messed up some pitches before going for a walk. Third baseman Omar Baldo hit a single in midfield, making way for prize runner Robert Esposito. Alan Quezada then covered both base runners with a base stroke in the middle.
Knights ace William Sanchez also got off to a good start for his club. The right-hander allowed an inexperienced run in five full innings, scoring nine hits while allowing five hits, three walks and for hit batters.