By Patrick Bernadeau
For Hometown News
MARTIN COUNTY - When the final out was recorded and after action had ceased for the night, the Martin County Tigers boy's baseball team were continuing a theme the Blue and Gold faithful has seen all year.
Josh Throne threw 5 strong innings and for the second game in a row, all nine Tigers in the starting lineup had at least one hit, including homeruns from Danny Hudzina and Mark Savarese, as the Tigers rolled over district opponent Okeechobee 9-3 Friday night at Tiger Field in Stuart.
"I'm happy to get the win," said Martin County Coach Jerry Smith. "It's a district win, so it's big."
The Tigers (7-0, 3-0) struck first in the bottom of the second inning after an RBI single by Cullen Cormier scored Brad Rowley from second base.
In the next inning, taking advantage of a 3-1 hitter's count, Savarase launched an Alex Estremera pitch over the left-center field wall to extend the Tiger lead to 3-0.
The only stumble for Martin County came in the next half inning, as command issues for Throne and two errors allowed the Brahmans (4-2, 1-2) to close within a run. The errors, three in total, were something not lost on the Tiger's skipper.
"We were sloppy. I guess you'll have that sometimes when you are dealing with 16- and 17-year-old kids but I'm not very happy about it and we'll get to work in practice."
The Tiger bats were about to recover any damage done in the bottom of the fourth thanks to a RBI single from Jeremy Vasquez and a 3-run shot from Hudzina. The 4 spot put up by the Tigers all but ended matters for the evening.
Okeechobee's Jesse Stebbins added an RBI sacrifice fly in the top of the fifth, but the Brahmans' offense was shut down for much of the night. Four Tigers pitchers combined on a 5-hit, 1-earned-run effort, while Brahmans pitchers allowed 13 hits to a team striking on all cylinders.
"They showed a lot of discipline," said Okeechobee head coach Jeff Blackstone of the Martin County hitters. "That puts a burden on our pitchers to have great command of their fastball and off-speed stuff in order to take command of the strike-zone. Every mistake we made, they definitely punished us for it."
The Tigers have outscored their opponents 48-14 this season.
A big part of the Tiger offensive attack on this night was Jeremy Vasquez, who reached base on every plate appearance with 3 hits and a walk. Earlier in the week, Vasquez received some recognition after being selected by ESPN as one of the top high school baseball players in the state, an honor the sophomore had not been aware of.
"I didn't even hear about it," said Vasquez. "But I guess it's a pretty big accomplishment huh."
Another accomplishment with the win marks just the second time in school history that Martin County opened a season 7-0. Just a year earlier, the Tigers began their season 8-0. The 2011-12 season has been filled with athletic achievements for the Tigers.
Both boys and girls bowling teams won state championships, along with the girl's volleyball team.
District championship were also earned by both boys and girls soccer teams, boys and girls cross country, the boys swimming team, and boys basketball team while the football team and girls swimming team, also enjoyed seasons ending in state-playoff appearances.
"We're very fortunate," said Greg Hendricks, athletic director. "This year has been unbelievable. We give a lot of credit to the students, the coaches and the parents. It's as if the perfect storm stuck us this year."
For matters to continue on the baseball diamond, the Tigers understand the start of the season isn't everything. That lesson was learned last year when Martin County simply ran out of steam down the stretch with a disappointing season-ending 9-0 loss to Port St. Lucie in the District 12-7A title game.
"We've talked about it's not how you start but how you finish," said Smith.
"I definitely think we have room for improvement but we are going to keep working."