BRANDON — Strawberry Crest High pitcher Mark Moclair was over-throwing early in the Chargers’ Saladino Tournament quarterfinal-round game against Plant City on Wednesday.
The junior said part of it was his excitement to face the district-rival Raiders and it was noticeable as his curve was spiking into the dirt early.
By the end, however, the right-hander heeded advice from Chargers coach Eric Beattie, adjusted throwing “about 80 percent” as hard and his curve left the Raiders stumped, as Moclair completed a no-hitter in a 3-0 win.
“I did try to throw the ball too hard in the beginning,” Moclair said. “Coach Beattie came and told me to ‘slow it down, relax, throw strikes, don’t try to throw to hard — maybe 75-80 percent’ and it really worked.”
The Chargers’ offense waited a while to support Moclair, finally breaking through in the top of the seventh. Moclair singled to start the inning before captain Flabio Garcia doubled in a pair to the left-field corner, followed by an RBI single from Tyler Chancey.
“Mark kept us in that whole game, so we had to get something done,” Garcia said. “(Plant City) is tough and they always scrap to the end. I got a good pitch and handled it. I live for that moment.”
Moclair sealed the no-hitter by striking out two in each of the final two innings, finishing with three walks and seven strikeouts.
It was Moclair’s second win of the tournament and the first no-hitter in program history.
Surging Alonso wins another one-run game
Finding a way to win close games is the difference between good teams and great teams.
Alonso is making its case as the Ravens capitalized on a big second inning and held on to beat Bloomingdale 5-4.
It was the seventh one-run win for Alonso (12-1) this season.
“They say if you win your one-run games in a season you’ll have a good year,” Alonso coach Landy Faedo said. “That’s what we’ve been doing and hopefully we keep doing it.”
Ravens ace Alex Faedo, making just his second start of the season, found himself in early trouble by allowing a pair of runs in the first on an RBI triple by Doug Sandberg, who later scored on a wild pitch.
Faedo earned the win by striking out seven in five innings, while sophomore Ryan Fernandez picked up his sixth save.
The Ravens answered with a run in the first on a bases-loaded walk, before Alonso strung together five hits in the second to plate four runs, highlighted by an RBI double by sophomore Ryan Mejia.
Mejia was 3-for-4 and said the Ravens are finding ways to win the close games.
“Every game in the Saladino has been a (close) game,” Mejia said. “It’s great what’s happening here — we’re finding ways to win.”
Jefferson gets breaks, topples Brandon 1-0
Longtime Jefferson coach Pop Cuesta summed it up best: Sometimes in tight, well-played games it’s the tiny mistakes that make all the difference.
Against host Brandon, two wild pitches in one sequence gave the Dragons a 1-0 win.
“Games like this always seems to be decided by an error, a wild pitch, a bad call and today we were fortunate that we got the break,” Cuesta said. “Those kids at Brandon worked their butts off, we just were the lucky (team) today.”
Jony Gonzalez singled in the fifth and moved to second on a David Almonte single before advancing to third and scoring on a pair of wild pitches.
From there, defense and consistent work from Dragons starter Jordan Norman, who worked a complete game, helped him improve to 5-0.
“I told myself from the beginning this wasn’t going to be easy,” Norman said. “But I just did my job, just me and the catcher and my team backed me up.”
Brandon’s Ryan Anderson took the tough-luck loss, allowing four hits while striking out seven in seven innings. Brandon had runners in scoring position four times but couldn’t capitalize.
Both teams got solid defensive work as Jefferson shortstop Jose Cuellar blanketed things up the middle and Brandon’s left side of shortstop Drayden Williams and third baseman Jordan Feist displayed their gloves.
Christian Montesinos doubled in the loss and Alex Clark had a pair of singles.
Bats come to life as Plant downs Leto
Plant’s first two games of the season seem like a distant memory as the Panthers started 0-2 before ripping of nine straight wins, including a 9-1 rain-shortened five-inning victory against Leto to advance to the semifinals.
The Panthers unloaded in the third inning as Cooper Dickens ignited the four-run frame with a leadoff triple. Dickens added an RBI double in a five-run fifth.
Six Panthers had multi-hit games and Plant finished with 14 — a number that would have been bigger considering the Panthers had four sixth-inning runs taken off the board when rain stalled the game and the score reverted back to the fifth inning.
Junior Jake Bak earned the win, throwing five innings, allowing four hits and striking out two.