Sports Contact: J.T. Wilcox, Sports Information Director
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 29, 2019
MIAMI GARDENS, FL – The overused idiom about victory and defeat was applicable Saturday as ASA Miami's baseball team had to watch Pasco-Hernando make a celebratory dog pile after it had just punched its ticket to the regional tournament in North Carolina.
As the Bobcats players expressed their joy, the Silver Storm players had to sit in the dugout disappointedly watching after they had just been swept in the Region VIII best-of-three championship series following a 6-5 loss Saturday afternoon at Florida Memorial University.
Having lost game one 6-1 the day before, ASA Miami was in a must-win situation Saturday – needing to win game two in order to force a decisive game three later in the evening. Instead, the Silver Storm dug themselves into an early hole and couldn't quite come up with the hits to rally back on Pasco-Hernando – a team that has defeated ASA in three of their four championship series meetings over the past four years.
Freshman right-handed pitcher Enzo Evangelista got the start Saturday but didn't have his best stuff working. The first inning began with a five-pitch walk then really went downhill – throwing a wild pitch, being called for a balk, giving up an RBI-single, throwing another wild pitch, then hitting back-to-back batters to load the bases.
Pasco-Hernando was only able to produce two runs despite the disastrous start for the Silver Storm, thanks in large part to big lefty Oscar Vargas – who came in and nailed down the inning. ASA Miami responded right back in the bottom of the first, getting RBI singles from Jorge Sabio and Andres Moreno.
The Bobcats took the lead again in the top of the second inning, manufacturing three runs. Pasco extended its lead to 6-2 in the top of the fifth while the Silver Storm's bats remained silenced up to that point.
Silver Storm head coach Robert Martin, who steered ASA Miami to an 18-26 record in his first season leading the program, said that falling behind by three runs early was a tough hole to climb out of.
"It was big. No one likes to be down early – especially in a playoff game," Martin said. "The toughest inning in playoff baseball is the first inning. If you're able to get by the first inning, you should be alright throughout the rest of the game. It wasn't a good start for us."
Things got better on the mound for ASA when Martin went to Jose Ulloa. The hard-throwing sophomore came in at the top of the fifth inning and effectively shut down the Bobcats bats the rest of the day.
Trailing 6-2 in the bottom of the fifth, ASA Miami had a chance to tie the game when it loaded the bases and had Yusniel Aguilar – a .322 hitter who leads the team in RBI – at the plate with one out. Instead, Pasco pitcher Kyle Khachadourian forced Aguilar to ground into a double play – ending the inning and leaving the deficit at four.
ASA Miami did put on its rally caps in the bottom of the sixth inning when Adrian Perez brought two runners home with a shot to deep left and Gianny Galvez brought home another with a sac fly to right field. That (6-5) would be as close as the Silver Storm would get after an eighth-inning opportunity – having a runner in scoring position with Alejandro Vazquez at the plate representing the go-ahead run – fell by the wayside.
"We did a good job of holding off these guys. Jose Ulloa did a phenomenal job of giving us an opportunity to make a comeback and possibly go ahead.," Martin said, rehashing the late innings.
"We were almost there. We had the tying run on first and a big bat at the plate. Alejandro Vasquez, a guy who's been leading the way for us all year, but baseball is baseball…it's not a good feeling to be on this side of it."
Khachadourian pitched a complete game, struck out 13 Silver Storm batters, yielded just one walk, and was just solid enough to hold off the ASA bats despite throwing over 125 pitches on the day.
Naturally, ASA's players were emotional after the game, as was Martin – who hugged each of his players after addressing them for the final time of the 2019 season.
"I told them that I love them and that I'll always be there for them – no matter what the circumstance is," Martin said.
"I just want to thank them for putting me under their wing. A lot of coaches put their kids under their wings, but these guys put me under their wings. Without a doubt – we wouldn't have been able to have the success that we had this year if it wasn't for the guys we have and our coaching staff. One thing that they'll never forget is the 26 guys that they practiced, played, and spent countless hours with. That's what you take with you whether you go Division-I, Division-II, or you stop playing baseball altogether, You'll never forget the bus rides, the pregame, the music and dancing on the bus. Baseball's not everything, it's about life and the relationships that you make."
"At the end of the day, baseball comes down to the family – the team," Martin added. "And this is definitely one that I will never forget."