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Parkland Eagles 18U Walk-Off To Win Fall Classic Title

The 2016 HSBN Fall Classic champion Parkland Eagles.

18U Championship Photo Gallery

As John Guzman’s grand slam home run soared over the left field fence, the Parkland Eagles walked off to victory to win their third straight HSBN Fall Classic championship. Guzman’s blast in the bottom of the fifth finished off a 14-2 win over the Beach Bombers to complete a big day for the Eagles, after the club also claimed the 16U title earlier in the day.

Parkland scored in every inning and also received a strong pitching performance to earn the win. The Eagles went undefeated during the tournament with a 7-0 mark, and they have gone 20-3 while winning the past three tournaments.

“That’s one of the goals that we set to end the fall season is that we want to play games and when tournaments come we want to win them,” Eagles manager Todd Fitz-Gerald said. “It’s good to be a three-time HSBN Fall Classic champion and it’s a prelude to the spring. At the end of the day it’s a warm-up to get ready for the spring and hopefully it carries over, because it’s been working. We’ll see.”

Parkland scored six runs in the last inning. Chad McDaniel doubled to drive in Max Miednik and Brandon Auerbach then scored on a wild pitch, before the Eagles loaded up the bases to set up Guzman’s grand slam to left field. Chad Stanley also went deep for the Eagles, connecting for a two-run blast in the third.

Parkland jumped out to the lead with a three-run first inning. Auerbach legged out a leadoff double, McDaniel was hit by a pitch and replaced by courtesy-runner Luis Acevedo and Rafael Santos got the scoring going with a sac-fly RBI to right field. Danny Vazquez and Chad Stanley followed with RBI doubles.

The 2016 HSBN Fall Classic Runners-Up Beach Bombers.

That lead proved to be enough for the Eagles’ pitching staff. Left-handed starter Brandon Kaminer earned the win with four strong innings in which he struck out 10 batters. Cory Goldfarb struck out the only batter he faced, and Stanley closed things out with a pair of strikeouts during a scoreless fifth.

The Bombers (6-1) also had a strong tournament run in taking their only defeat in the championship game. They were scrappy and relentless in every contest, and that grit remained true down to the end. Manny Arias broke up the no-hitter with a single into center field leading off the fourth, Nolan Santos walked and then both runners scored on an error to end the shutout and get the Bombers on the scoreboard.

“The main thing is we are a very young team,” Bombers manager Juan Cordero said. “The majority of the starters are sophomores and we wanted to see what they had. We faced a very first-class team there and we did the best we could. We’re grateful to have such a run with the young kids, and they are going to get better. We’re hoping now that they have faced a team like this that we get them ready for the playoffs maybe come April and May of next year. Games like this and the tournament HSBN had helped us mature and we appreciate it.”

With the fall season winding down, the Fall Classic provides a nice final tuneup. Teams enjoy the competition as they look to close out on a positive note in preparation of the spring season. Most programs have parlayed a strong run in the Classic into playoff success in April and May, and last year the Eagles even won a state championship for the first time. Monday night they continued the tradition with the goal of chasing down another state crown this spring.

“We’ve got a lot of new faces and we’re still trying to gel and figure some things out, but I really like our team,” Fitz-Gerald said. “I like the way we swing the bats, I like the way we throw and I think we’re pretty deep on the mound. We’ve got some depth, that’s for sure, and we’ve got some big-time guys. So it’s going to be fun this spring.”

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