By: Matt Rothman
The North Broward Prep baseball team came one win away from winning a third straight State Championship.
The Eagles completed a 27-5 season after winning a District and Regional Championship.
In the semifinals on Friday, NBP faced off against Gulliver Prep after falling 17-6 in the regular season. The Eagles fell behind 4-0 and were two outs away from being no-hit, but NBP rallied with five runs for the stunning walk-off win. Riley Luft, who pitched four scoreless innings in relief, ignited the rally in the seventh with a triple.
“My mindset coming to the plate was just to pass the bat over to the next person and get on,” Luft said. “I didn’t get anything but offspeed in that at-bat and was down two strikes, so I simplified my swing and sat on that curveball and drove it the other way with intent.”
Luft then scored on an RBI single from TJ Gramesty. AJ Culter and Mauricio Bejarano also knocked in runs to cut the deficit to one before Mateo Gray recorded the game-winning walk-off two-run double.
“That game was nuts as we didn’t play our best baseball in the beginning, but we settled down, got together as a team, and just kept calm,” Luft added. “We have been in games where we have been down before in previous years, so we have the upper hand on stuff like that, but I have never seen something like this before.”
NBP then went in to face Calvary Christian Academy in the final. The Eagles fell behind 2-0 but rallied to tie the game after Bejarano walked with the bases loaded and Gray hit a sacrifice fly. However, Calvary Christian outscored NBP 7-1 in the final two innings to win a State Championship.
NBP, though, was well-represented on the HSBN All-District Team. Nathanael Coupet, who led the team with a .404 batting average, eight home runs, and 37 RBIs, was selected as the Player and Hitter of the Year. Gray finished as the Pitcher of the Year after going 5-0 this year. Gramesty (catcher), Bejarano (second base), Gian De De Castro (third base), Coupet (outfield), Luft (utility), A.J. Cutler (utility), Jensen Seculer (pitcher), and Ryan McPherson (pitcher) were all recognized as well.
Offensively, NBP hit .308, with Gramesty, Bejarano, De Castro, Coupet, and Luft all hitting over .320. The team hit 22 home runs and scored 231 runs, while the pitching staff had a team ERA of 2.40. McPherson led the team with six wins, while Luft added five. Seculer and Coupet also combined for five victories.
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- Matt Rothman is a 2018 graduate from Florida Gulf Coast University receiving his bachelor’s degree in journalism and then graduated from the University of Florida as a graduate student.
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