The Miami Dade College baseball team showed a flair for the dramatics during the Florida College System Activities Association state tournament.
They defeated two of the top teams in the nation—second ranked College of Central Florida and eleventh ranked Florida Southwestern State College—and mounted an improbable 11-run comeback in their third game before being eliminated by Northwest Florida State College, 5-2, on May 14.
But the comeback against the College of Central Florida was still fresh on everyone’s mind.
Sharks head coach Danny Price called the win one of the greatest comebacks in the tournament’s history.
The Sharks were down 11-0 in the top of the fifth inning. If the Patriots would have been up by ten at the conclusion of the fifth inning, MDC would have been eliminated because of the mercy rule, but the Sharks scored the next 12 runs and won, 12-11, in the tenth inning.
“That win [against College of Central Florida] was one of the most amazing moments as a coach. We were down eleven runs and those kids were convinced in their heart that they could take that game and win it,” Price said. “These men came into the tournament prepared and they gave it their all. I have no regrets with how the tournament ended.”
Several Sharks came up big in the tournament during the four games. Second baseman Mike Alicea had a .400 average with three RBI; designated hitter/third baseman Sujel Arias-Auzon, had a stellar .461 average with three RBI and scored four runs and pitcher Gabriel Figueroa-Hidalgo, posted a 3.27 ERA throughout the tournament.
“I thought that we got far,” Alicea said. “We kept fighting and fighting but we made this tournament worth it.”
The Sharks finished the season with a 31-20 record and a Southern Conference title.
“I’m very proud of them. I think we went through so many injuries, adversities, and controversies,” Price said. “It was a very tough year.”
Offensively, the team lacked punch, recording a modest .261 batting average, 215 RBI and 19 home runs.
The key to the team’s success came mainly from its outstanding defense (they led the FCSAA with a .972 fielding percentage) and brilliant performances on the mound.
Their best starting pitcher was Figueroa-Hidalgo, who was 8-1 in 17 appearances and had a 2.24 ERA. Sophomore Orlando Ribalta led the FCSAA with nine saves in 24 games.
As a unit, the Sharks pitchers had a 3.87 ERA while shelling out 430 strikeouts. They only allowed eight home runs in 48 games.
Price is confident the team’s freshman will benefit from their experience.
“You hope that they learned from this year,” Price said. “We hope they can take this experience and grow from it next season. Next year they will be stronger and better. Now we have to see what happens in the draft and build for next season.”