Friday, May 30, 2008

Team of The Year- American Heritage

RT Staff Note: This team was one of our favorites going in and it is our number one team going out. This team is full of superstars that you will hear later on next month as MLB holds it's annual draft. Eric Hosmer is the high profile player batting .471 with 49 runs, 41 hits, 27 RBI's, 16 for 16 in SB's and 11 HR's. He also had 5 saves and 32K's in 17 innings pitched. WOW! But it was Joey Belviso that may take home the post season honors. His .494 BA, 43 hits, 37 RBI's, 11 doubles, 15 HR's and out of this world 1.161 SLG led the team and league. They won state last week and are our unanimous choice for Team Of The Year. The following is an artcle from the Miami Herald that details their chammpionship game.


SARASOTA -- American Heritage ended the debate Tuesday night at Ed Smith Stadium about who is the nation's best high school baseball team.

Led by senior catcher Adrian Nieto, who hit two home runs, and senior first baseman Eric Hosmer, who nearly hit for a cycle, the Patriots cruised to an 8-2 victory against Fort Pierce John Carroll to claim the Class 3A state baseball championship.

American Heritage (31-2), ranked No. 1 nationally by Baseball America, claimed its first state title, and likely will become Broward County's first baseball team to win a mythical national championship.

''I think this is the best team in the nation,'' Hosmer said. ``There are no individuals on this team. We all work hard and pick each other up when we're down and we've accomplished the goal we set out from day one.''

American Heritage coach Todd Fitz-Gerald, who finished his seventh season with the Patriots, praised the way his team handled the pressure of being in the national spotlight the entire season.

''It's an honor if we do get voted No. 1, but these guys never talked about it during the season,'' Fitz-Gerald said. ``Our focus was kept on winning the state championship.

``I'm sure now we'll talk about the national championship.''

Hosmer, a projected top-10 selection in June's major-league baseball amateur draft, went 3 for 3, with a home run, a double and a triple in a game that started 1 hour, 45 minutes later than scheduled because of heavy rain Tuesday afternoon.

Nieto, who went 0 for 5 in Monday's semifinal victory against Pensacola Catholic, stole the show with one of the best games of his career.

Nieto, a University of South Florida signee, hit a two-run home run off Golden Rams starter Shane McCain that went more than 380 feet to left-center field. The towering shot hit the top of the wall and bounced over. It was part of a three-run third inning that gave the Patriots a 4-1 lead.

Nieto followed that with a three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning that gave American Heritage an 8-2 lead.

''I picked the right game to break out I guess,'' Nieto said. ``I forgot about [Monday] completely and just focused on getting it done.''

Senior pitcher Greg Conver picked up the victory in relief of Ryan Kahn, going the final 2 2/3 innings. Conver struck out Golden Rams catcher Colton Griffin looking to end the game.

Kahn gave up a run in the first inning, when second baseman Adam Koerner hit a bloop single to center that scored McCain. But Kahn settled down and held John Carroll (24-6) to two runs and five hits.

''After that first run, I knew I couldn't get too uptight because we needed to score anyway,'' said Kahn, who will attend Johns Hopkins University. ``I knew I had to bear down and stay confident because I had the No. 1 team in the country backing me up.''

John Carroll cut Heritage's lead to 4-2 in the top of the fourth on back-to-back singles by Trae Goodwyn and Rick Teasley.

But after Austin Yager reached on one of John Carroll's five errors, Hosmer extended the lead to 5-2 with a double to center field.

Hosmer's try at the cycle ended when he reached on a fielder's choice in the bottom of the sixth that gave Heritage two runners on base with one out.

But Hosmer said he knew something good was about to happen when Nieto stepped to the plate.

''I told him I'm going to get on-base, you bring me in,'' Hosmer said. ``We've had that total team effort all season.

``That's why winning with these guys is a great feeling.''

John Carroll 100 100 0 --2 6 5 Heritage 103 103 x --8 10 1

WP: Greg Conver (7-1). LP: Shane McCain (4-2).

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