Surging Seahawks Finish Co-Southern Conference Champions
The Broward College men’s baseball team began the final week of the regular season in third place of the Southern Conference at 15-11 with the last two games against second place Miami Dade College (15-10) in a home-and-home series. Adding to the pressure for the Seahawks was that Palm Beach State College (14-12) stood a game behind Broward in fourth place and owned the tie-breaker between the two teams by winning five of the seven meetings. The remaining two games for PBSC were against first place Eastern Florida State College (16-9).
In order to qualify for the FCSAA tournament, Broward needed to win both games against MDC to assure a first or second place finish in the conference. If the Seahawks split both games, Broward would finish in third place and participate in a play-in against the other FCSAA teams that finished third in the conference with the winner advancing to the state tournament. Even if Palm Beach State won both games against Eastern Florida State and Broward split the two games against Miami Dade, the Seahawks would finish third at 16-12 and owned the tie-breaker against EFSC or MDC by winning the season series against each conference rival. If Broward lost both games to MDC and PBSC defeated EFSC once, the Seahawks would end the season in fourth place.
Orlando Rodriguez started the first game at A. Hugh Adams Central Campus and pitched a complete game, firing a two-hitter and striking out 10 batters to defeat the Sharks 4-0. The following day in Kendall, Edison Cabrera’s single with two-out and the bases loaded in the top of the ninth inning brought in Gavin Robinson to give Broward an eventual 2-1 victory. After reliever Jose Padron retired the last batter, his teammates charged the mound to celebrate clinching a playoff berth.
Padron (W, 5-2) pitched 1 and 1/3 scoreless innings, retired all four batters faced and struck out two. It was fitting for Padron to pick up the victory against Miami Dade because it continues a winning streak of eight games for the Seahawks that started with Padron’s last win against Eastern Florida State College at Davie on Apr. 9. Padron helped the Seahawks defeat the Titans 9-8 in 11 innings after working 1 and 2/3 scoreless innings.
While the Seahawks ended their season a half-game out of first behind Eastern Florida State College, both Miami Dade and EFSC had one more game to play against each other to close out their respective schedules. The Sharks defeated the Titans in Melbourne 2-0, ending the season with another first place tie in the Southern Conference.
Despite both Broward and Eastern Florida finishing with identical 17-11 conference records, the Seahawks are seeded first in the state tournament based on winning the season series against the Titans (4-3). Last season, Broward finished in a tie with Palm Beach State College and were seeded second in the state tournament based on the same criteria.
Head coach Ben Bizier has guided the Seahawks to two consecutive state tournament appearances in his three years directing the program. Padron is one of several players recruited by Bizier who has gained national recognition. In the latest NJCAA statistics (Apr. 21), Padron is eighth in saves (eight) and Orlando Rodriguez is third in strikeouts (96) and 11th in innings pitched (74.2). Edison Cabrera is 13th in stolen bases (26) and JC Millan is 36th in runs batted in (54).
Last month, Rodriguez was named NJCAA Region 8/FCSAA Pitcher of the Week (Mar. 22) after pitching a complete game by tossing a three-hitter, walking none and striking out 11 to help Broward defeat Indian River State College 3-2 on Mar. 16. Last year, Rodriguez was selected second team All-Southern Conference.
Salva showed why he was selected second team All-FCSAA and first team All-Southern Conference as a catcher by handling the mitt flawlessly (he has yet to commit an error) and throwing out 16 of 30 base stealers for an impressive .533 percentage. In the regular season finale, the Sharks had a runner on first base in the seventh and eighth innings with the game tied at 1-1. MDC tried to steal in both situations and each time Salva threw the runner out.
Broward features a batting lineup with several offensive contributors. Through 52 games, Dijendrick Croes leads the Seahawks in batting average (.329) and on base percentage (.443). JC Millan is first in slugging percentage (.521), hits (63), doubles (15), runs batted in (54) and total bases (101). Gabriel Garcia is the home run leader (10) and Rayden Ogando is tops in runs (36) and walks (41). Andres Lopez, who was second team All-Southern Conference last year, is among the team leaders in batting average (.326), runs (34) and hits (61).
The pitching staff has three players tied with five victories in Chamblee, Padron and Louis Pugliese. Ray Catena leads in appearances (22) and earned run average (0.91). Rodriguez is first in innings pitched (74.2) and strikeouts (96). Padron is tops in saves with eight.
The NJCAA D1 Gulf District/FCSAA Tournament is at Henley Field in Lakeland on May 15-20. Broward plays Gulf Coast State College on Sunday, May 15 at 10 a.m. The Seahawks enter the tournament with an overall record of 33-19 and are ranked 10th in the latest NJCAA Region 8 Coaches’ Poll (Apr. 19).
For more information on the men’s baseball team and all of Broward College’s Athletics, go to www.broward.edu/studentlife/athletics.