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Chiles Loses To American Heritage In 1st Game Of S. Florida Trip

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Nobody would have thought twice had American Heritage come out sluggish against Chiles on Monday night. With its annual attention-grabbing game against district rival Archbishop McCarthy on Friday night, it would have been natural to overlook Monday’s opponent, Lawton Chiles from Tallahassee.

The Patriots, however, appeared to have laser focus as they controlled the game from start to finish in an 8-0 victory.

“We knew we had McCarthy on Friday night, but we also knew that we had to keep our focus on this game,” said Heritage’s Tristan Casas. “We knew this team was good, and we couldn’t overlook them.”

Chiles came in playing in the first of their three-game South Florida tour. Early on, they Wolves were able to create a few scoring opportunities off Heritage starter Bailey Mantilla. In the first inning, Chiles’ Tommy Kinney had a single, and Chase Hatfield walked. The Timberwolves were unable to capitalize, as Garrett Mathes popped out to third, Mantilla struck out Tyler Dunbar, and TJ West grounded out to short.

In their half of the first, the Patriots’ Cory Acton singled and stole second. Casas then drove home Acton with a one-out single to center.

The score remained 1-0 into the third. Heritage batters showed patience, loading the bases with consecutive walks from Casas, Mark Vientos, and Dylan Goldstein. Travis Holt then delivered the big blow of the game, a double down the left-field line, clearing the bases and increasing the lead to 4-0.

“We were in the game early and although we weren’t playing that well, we had our opportunities to score,” said Chiles Manager Dick Steed. “That double in the third inning really blew the game open after those three walks. It is hard to recover from those missed opportunities against a good team.”

Mantilla, meanwhile, was cruising, even on a night when he didn’t have his best stuff. He finished the game throwing four innings of shutout ball. He also struck out four Timberwolves. Saddled with the task of facing a team from out of the area, Mantilla picked up the win.

“When you don’t know much about a team you just have to come out and go right after them,” said Mantilla. “My approach was to just throw a lot of strikes and let my defense work behind me.”

The defense for Heritage was another phase of the game that was firing on all cylinders. Second baseman Alfie Soto made several big plays, and third baseman Acton made a diving play in the sixth.

The offense continued rolling and put the game away in the fifth, doubling the lead to 8-0 with four runs. The inning began with four straight hits, a double by Casas, and singles from Vientos, Goldstein, and Holt. A single by Soto brought in the final two runs of the inning.

“We were a little impatient early in the game, and were expanding the strike zone a bit,” said Heritage Manager Bruce Aven. “Then, we settled down and started having some better at-bats. It was good to see the adjustments that were made.”

For Chiles, the South Florida tour does not get any easier on Tuesday, as the Wolves face newly appointed HSBN Florida #1 Archbishop McCarthy. Then, they finish their trip with a game against Palm Beach Gardens. In all, Steed knows this trip is about more than wins and losses for his team.

“We go away every year, and it is great to come down here and play these top teams from other parts of the state,” said Steed. “But it’s also a great experience, the bonding in the hotel, the team meals, and the other activities we do while on the road.”

For Heritage, the game precluded its annual rumble with McCarthy. The two teams have exchanged regular-season blows the past few years, and when they meet Friday it will again be with the top seed in the district tournament on the line.

“We think we are ready,” said Casas. “That game always has a special feel, and anyone that says it is just another game is lying. We always play great games versus each other, and both teams have a lot of talent. The atmosphere is always electric, and it will be again on Friday night.”

Bases-clearing double from Travis Holt. 4-0 Patriots. #ahpatriots

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1-0 Heritage. Tristan Casas with an RBI single scoring Cory Acton

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