Knights season ends in second round, recap of both playoff games and final thoughts
The West Palm Beach Knights were able to advance past the first round of the SFCBL playoffs by defeating the Pompano Beach Clippers 5–2, but unfortunately their season ended in the following round with a loss to the Delray Beach Lightning. With the Knights now eliminated, it’s now time to recap their two playoff games on Friday and Saturday.
Round one victory vs Clippers:
The Knights scored their first playoff run off of an error made by first baseman Carmine Petosa in the top of the third inning, and the scoring rolled over into the next inning. Townson Ellis was able to get himself into scoring position by stealing second base and getting to third on a wild pitch from Tyler Cirone. This made it easier for Cox to earn a run as Willie Ponce brought in the second run of the game with an RBI double. Juhlien Gonzalez stepped up to the plate next and hit an RBI single to score Ponce and after four the score was 3–1 with the Knights in the lead.
West Palm Beach then gained a four-run lead in the seventh and never let the Clippers get close. Ponce was able to add a run on the day as he scored off of an RBI single from Andrew Eppinger, and a sacrifice fly from Luke Shannahan scored the fifth run for West Palm Beach with Gonzalez making his way home.
While the Clippers had ten hits compared to the Knights six, the Knights did a great job of preventing scoring scenarios for Palm Beach, as only one of their runs was earned and came in the bottom eighth with an RBI single from Diego Prieto.
Garrick Murray was the winning pitcher for the Knights, as he went six innings and threw four strikeouts without giving up a run. Bryson Walker was rewarded with a save, while Tyler Cirone was the losing pitcher for the Clippers, as he pitched in seven innings and threw three strikeouts while allowing four earned runs.
Round two vs Lightning:
The ballgame was tied after three innings at 2–2, but a big fourth and seventh inning where Delray Beach scored seven out of their nine runs gave them the edge to defeat the Knights 9–4.
An RBI double in the second from Casey Kleinman put the Knights down 1–0 after two, but responded and took a 2–1 lead with an RBI single to score Tyler Muscat and Andres Paret also scored after an error was made by center fielder Jackson Tucker. Delray Beach then came back with an RBI single from Marco Navarro even the score for the Lightning.
West Palm Beach then surrendered their worst inning of the day by giving up four runs and falling into a 6–2 hole. An RBI single by Jack Metcho and Chris Ruckdeschel gave Delray Beach two runs, and another two were brought in as the ball got away from Knights first baseman Tyler Cox as pitcher Tyler Novik attempted to throw out Jackson Tucker. Cato Kleinman and Ruckdeschel benefitted from that error and scored.
The Knights were able to make the game closer with a two-run fifth inning with Tyler Cox hitting a ball into right field and an error made by Casey Kleinman attempting to field the ball allowed Baez to score coming from second base. And with Dominik Ramil at-bat, Lightning pitcher Devin Blair threw a wild pitch that Ramil had to duck to avoid, and Tyler Muscat was able to run home and make the score 6–4 heading into the sixth.
Delray Beach then put forth another huge inning in the seventh, with Kevin Vittoria recording an RBI single to score Marco Navarro and put Luke Cantwell in scoring position at second base. And in the following at-bat, Casey Kleinman hit a ball into left field to add on an RBI double and bring in Cantwell and Vittoria.
West Palm Beach was unable to respond as the lead was too big to overcome and the Knights were knocked out of the playoffs.
Patrick Montanga earned the loss for the Knights as he pitched in 3.2 innings. For Delray Beach, Devin Blair was the winning pitcher, Blair threw nine strikeouts in five innings. Ross Goldschlag, the relief pitcher for the Lightning, picked up a save throwing four strikeouts and didn’t allow a run in four innings.
It was an up and down season most of the year for West Palm Beach, but the ball club put forth their best performances late in the year. The Knights finished 8–2 in the final ten games and came together as a team to win a playoff game after missing the postseason last year. Although the ultimate goal was not achieved, this is definitely a year the Knights can look back on and hang their head high on as improvement were made and noticed.