The Coral Glades Jaguars (13-12) made school history Wednesday night with their first ever regional win in the 8A Regional Quarterfinals against Saint Thomas Aquinas (19-5). The Jaguars were able to ride RHP and Bethune-Cookman signee TJ Densmore (4-4) for four innings on their way to a 6-2 lead until LHP Preston Vegotsky (2-2) came in the fifth inning for the save. Vegotsky gave up two runs on a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning by Anthony Mulrine, but the Raiders could not fight out of the hole they dug themselves. Coral Glades’ top two threats on the mound were able to largely contain an explosive Saint Thomas offense on the way to a 6-4 victory over the Raiders.
“Tonight was more than a game. Tonight could have been the last game of our season, but it wasn’t. I knew Saint Thomas was a good hitting team, I knew I had to come out there with my A game and throw my hardest,” senior TJ Densmore said after the win.
Saint Thomas threw their ace Byron Giles (6-1), who came into the game undefeated, against a struggling Jaguars offense. However, in the first inning, Coral Glades put up one run on the board when lead-off batter Alex Lara came around to score. As for the Raiders in the first, lead-off hitter Cameron Krzeminski, who leads Broward County in runs scored and stolen bases, was picked off on first after a single into left field, eliminating the threat early.
The Jaguars led off the second inning with back to back singles from Jon Hook and pitcher TJ Densmore, who did it all for the Jaguars both at the plate and on the mound. A sac-bunt moved Hook and Densmore into scoring position, and with two outs Alex Lara came up to bat, grounding the ball to the second baseman who could not come up with the ball; Lara beat the throw and Hook scored from third to give Coral Glades a 3-1 lead. Next up, Juan Rodriguez singled into centerfield to bring around Casey Shifrel, a courtesy runner for Densmore.
In the second inning, the Raiders’ offense came to life when Kyle Benson singled to centerfield with one out. After picking off Krzeminski earlier in the game, Densmore tried his luck against Benson but the ball sailed past the first baseman Preston Vegotsky and Benson took second on the mishap, and later advanced to third on a passed ball. With two outs, Drew Davis came up to bat with Benson standing on third, and Davis delivered for Saint Thomas with an RBI triple to the right field wall.
Rodriguez stayed hot in the fifth inning for Coral Glades when he led off the inning with a double. Joey Juliano’s sac-bunt advanced Rodriguez to third with Vegotsky due up. The Jaguars’ offensive production from their pitchers continued when the lefty drilled an RBI single to right field, to put the visitors ahead 4-2. Later in the inning, with bases loaded for the Jaguars after Steven Godoy and Densmore both singled to left field, the Raiders went to the bullpen, bringing in Michael Muley, a submarine pitcher, to pick up the third out against Jaguars’ freshman Nik Donatucci. However, the freshman got the better of Saint Thomas’ junior when he poked a single into left field, the third single to left that inning, bringing in Vegotsky and Godoy to stretch the lead to four runs.
In the seventh inning with Vegotsky on the mound and Earl Semper standing on first after a shot into left field, cleanup batter Anthony Mulrine delivered with his fifth homerun of the season to cut the deficit to just two runs. Vegotsky forced a groundout and with two outs Kyle Benson came up to bat with the Raiders’ season in his hands. Vegotsky sat him down on strikes for his third strikeout in just as many innings, and the Jaguars swarmed him on the mound, celebrating the school’s first ever win at this level of competition.
“Some teams are going to be good and some teams are going to be better, to be a successful pitcher you have to be able to shut out all distractions and zone in on yourself and the catcher. When I got on the mound I had the confident mindset that it didn’t matter who was coming up to bat, I could take them down,” senior Preston Vegotsky said.
In Delray, the Atlantic Eagles took down the Piper Bengals 10-3 in their Regional Quarterfinals, setting up the fourth meeting of the season between the Eagles and Jaguars, the Eagles have taken all three meetings so far including a 6-1 victory last week at Spanish River High School in the 8A District 13 Championship.
“Facing Atlantic again is not going to be easy, but this time, I’m going to have a little more in depth information on what batters I’m facing and how to pitch to them. Now I have all the confidence I need to get the win. I just need to stay focused, my team and I will do the rest,” Densmore said.
Despite Atlantic sweeping the season series, the Jaguars will still go in confident with their two-heading pitching monster fully rested for next week’s matchup. After knocking off powerhouse Saint Thomas Aquinas, anything is possible for this scrappy Coral Glades team.