a baseball player swinging a bat at a ball

Two Keys pitchers boast the top spot in their district in strikeouts. Key West’s Anthony Lariz leads 4A District 16 with 55 Ks and counting, while Marathon’s Dylan Ziels has fanned 58 to lead the District 16 3A charts. Both athletes will have ample opportunity to boost those figures in the upcoming weeks, which offer a whirlwind of scheduled games as Florida baseball barrels toward the start of the postseason on April 29.

The Conchs were busy last week with three games, beginning on April 3 at Columbus. The 7A Explorers held the Conchs to just 2 hits, both off the bats of freshman. Nelson Ong and Auggy Davila each singled in the 10-0 loss. Anthony Lariz and Felix Ong shared pitching duties, combining for 5 strikeouts in 4 innings of play in Key West’s first mercy-rule loss of the season. 

Two nights later, it would be the Conchs showing the mercy. Key West opened play against another 7A team, the Sailors of Sarasota, with a four-run first inning, applying immediate pressure and ultimately winning 10-0. In six innings, the Conchs totaled 11 hits with 3 from Steel Mientkiewicz, 2 from Nelson Ong, and 1 each from Davila, Lariz, Caden Pichardo, Jose Perdigon, Sam Holland and Roman Garcia. Senior Jacob Burnham was a force on the mound, striking out 11 over 6 innings, walking none and allowing a stingy 2 hits. 

The next night, the Sailors came out on top, despite the Conchs out-hitting them 5-4. Noah Burnham, Jacob Burnham, Nelson Ong, Davila and Mientkiewicz collected 1 hit each in the 4-2 loss. Lariz started strong on the mound for Key West, striking out 4, giving up 1 hit and 1 walk but no runs in 3 innings. Felix Ong, Christian Koppal and Vinnie Moline combined for the remainder of the game. The trouble came in inning 5 when 5 walks, a hit and a sacrifice fly resulted in 4 runs for the Sailors. Key West now heads to the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina for the National High School Invitational. 

Marathon improved to 12-4 after a pair of wins last week. The Fins started off with a resounding 14-5 victory at Miami Country Day. The Dolphins topped the Spartans on April 3, fueled by 11 hits. Jack Dunn, Mason Thornton and Dylan Ziels had 2 apiece while Roco Piscetello, Dylan Williams, Leo Mendez, Gabe Leal and Aiden Gonzalez each had 1. Marathon stole a total of 6 bases, 3 by Thornton, and were error-free in the field. Thornton, Piscetello and Williams combined forces on the mound. 

Their next victim would be the Chargers of North Miami Beach. Despite out-hitting the Fins 12 to 6, the Chargers committed 6 errors and doled out a dozen walks to lose the advantage and the game. Leal and Thornton each had two hits and Jack Chapman and Mendez accounted for the other two. Leal pitched a full game for Marathon, striking out 3 with no walks.

Coral Shores played one game last week, losing to the 5A Thoroughbreds of Hialeah High 6-1 in Tavernier. The ’Canes had 5 hits, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the 15 the Thoroughbreds racked up. Maykol Bonito-Rodriguez, AJ Putetti, Ben Friedman, Riley O’Berry and Zeke Myers each singled in the loss.

Tracy McDonald
Tracy McDonald fled to the Keys from the frozen mountains of Pennsylvania hours after graduating from college and never looked back. She is a second generation coach and educator, and has taught in the public school system for over 25 years. She and her husband met at a beginning teacher meeting in 1997 and have three children born and raised in Monroe County. In her free time, McDonald loves flea markets, historical fiction and long runs in the heat.