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Stoneman Douglas makes early statement by winning BCAA tournament

Eagles upend Taravella 11-1 to win the BCAA Tier 1 championship; Devin Fitz-Gerald collects two hits and drives in three runs to win Player of the Game honors
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DAVIE, FLORIDA – The BCAA baseball tournament offered an early indicator for where Broward County teams stand entering the season. 

To no one's surprise, Marjory Stoneman Douglas reaffirmed itself as the class of the county. The Eagles captured the Tier 1 tournament championship on Friday night in convincing fashion, beating rival Taravella, 11-1, at Nova High School.

Devin Fitz-Gerald was named player of the game after Marjory Stoneman Douglas beats Taravella 11-1 in BCAA Tier 1 championship game.

Devin Fitz-Gerald was named player of the game after Marjory Stoneman Douglas beats Taravella 11-1 in BCAA Tier 1 championship game.

Playing three games in four days, the Eagles outscored their opponents, 28-1, with two outcomes being decided by the 10-run rule.

“I think we’re a pretty complete team,” Douglas coach Todd Fitz-Gerald said. “Obviously, there are some things we have to do better to continue to get better. We’ve got to work a little quicker on the mound to keep our defense on our toes a little bit.”

If working on pace of play by its pitchers is the biggest issue, Stoneman Douglas is in a pretty enviable spot one week into the season.

The BCAA (Broward County Athletic Association) event tested the depth of the participating schools. Douglas played three games since dispatching of Coral Springs Charter, 7-0, on Tuesday. The Eagles followed that up by routing West Broward, 10-0, on Wednesday, earning a spot in Friday’s championship. 

“I couldn’t be happier for the guys,” Fitz-Gerald said. “It’s a total group effort. We’re swinging the bats really good right now, and I hope that continues. I hope we continue to get stronger.”

Douglas, in Class 7A-District 13, is showing why it is a serious contender for state and national honors.

Taravella, in Class 7A-District 14, has a youthful squad that went 2-1 in the tournament. In their first two games, the Trojans rallied to beat Cardinal Gibbons, 9-7, on Tuesday, and came back to beat St. Thomas Aquinas, 5-4, on Wednesday.

But against a powerhouse like Douglas, Taravella put itself in too deep a hole, especially after allowing seven runs in the third inning.

“We have a lot of work to do,” Taravella coach Joe Giummule said. “But there are some bright spots with some of our younger guys. That’s encouraging. It’s a young group. Not a whole lot of experience. I’ve got to get to work and do a better job coaching these guys up. We certainly didn’t look like we belonged on the field today.”

Marjory Stoneman Douglas outscored three quality opponents by a combined 28-1 score to win the BCAA Tier 1 tournament championship

Marjory Stoneman Douglas outscored three quality opponents by a combined 28-1 score to win the BCAA Tier 1 tournament championship

The game highlights were as follows:

* Devin Fitz-Gerald brings home top honor: Fitz-Gerald, the junior shortstop, was presented with a special bat for being named the player of the game. The North Carolina State commit came up big in Douglas’ seven-run third inning.

Fitz-Gerald led off the inning with a single and he scored. In his second at-bat in the inning, he laced a bases-clearing, three-run double.

Just being back on the field is a thrill for the junior, who suffered a broken left thumb a year ago.

“I broke my thumb in the middle of the season,” the left-handed hitting shortstop said. “It all healed back up and I’m good to go now.”

Douglas responded with a big third inning after Taravella got on the board in the top of the third, making it 4-1.

“We’ve got energy in the dugout,” Fitz-Gerald said. “We always talk about passing the baton and get it to the next guy. Staying locked in throughout the whole game. I’m just trying to time up the fastball and catch every ball out front.”

* No doubt home run for Ossenfort: Just two batters into the bottom of the first inning, Matthew Ossenfort put Douglas ahead to stay.

The Vanderbilt commit clobbered a home run to center.It was Ossenfort’s only at-bat in the game, and it was a reminder of why the senior likely will be selected in the 2023 MLB Draft.“That’s a stud,” Giummule said. “That kid is a draft pick this year. He took a low-and-away pitch and just pieced it up. That’s why he’s going to Vanderbilt.”

Along with his hitting, Ossenfort also was Douglas’ starting pitcher. Primarily a first baseman, Ossenfort saw his first live game action as a pitcher in a couple of years. The left-hander worked 1.2 innings, striking out four, but also walking four.

"Matt, he hadn’t thrown in a live game in about two years,” Fitz-Gerald said. “We’re trying to extend him, and maybe get a couple of innings out of him.”

Gavin Gargiulo relieved Ossenfort with the bases loaded and two outs in the second inning, and worked out of the jam. Gargiulo worked 2.1 innings, giving up one run on a wild pitch in the third.“

Gavin Gargiulo came in and really locked it down and gave us a great effort,” Fitz-Gerald said. “I couldn’t be happier for the guys. It’s a total group effort.”

* Misleading starting numbers for Taravella: Sometimes, statistics can be misleading. It was the case for Burns, who started and threw two innings. The outcome didn’t entirely reflect the quality of his “stuff.”

Burns was charged with four runs, and he struck out four, against a potent Douglas offense.

“I thought my pitcher threw outstanding,” Giummule said. “It’s probably the best I’ve seen a kid pitch two innings and give up four runs.”

* Alex Rodriguez impacts with speed and defense: The catalyst of the Eagles in their leadoff hitter and center fielder, Alex Rodriguez. At the plate, Rodriguez had an RBI single to make it 4-0 in the second inning, and he added a stolen base. And in the seven-run third inning, the left-handed hitter drove in a run with a double, and he scored another run.In the fourth inning, Rodriguez made two nice defense plays in center, including a sliding catch. 

“He’s a really, really good player,” Fitz-Gerald said of the junior outfielder. “He sets the tone for us offensively. He had a really good night also. He can really cover ground out there. When he gets on base, he can really cause havoc. It’s usually a run scored.”