The Polo Park Middle School baseball team recently capped a strong season with several wins in the county playoffs before falling to Jupiter Middle School in the semifinals.
The team finished the regular season with an 8-2 record and, along with Western Pines Middle School and Wellington Landings Middle School, were co-champions of the Western Division.
The team won its opening playoff game against Western Pines 4-1, and then defeated Watson B. Duncan Middle School 1-0 in the next round.
Both games were pitched by Kieran Etwaru, who threw all 12 innings combined, allowing only one unearned run and striking out 19 batters while only walking three. Aside from the runner who scored off Etwaru in the first inning of the first playoff game, no other runner even reached third base while he was on the mound. For the season, he pitched 29 innings and only gave up four runs (three earned), had 51 strikeouts and only allowed six walks for a record of 4-0 with two no decisions and one save. At the plate, he went 12-for-31 (.387) for the year with 10 walks and two sacrifice flies.
Players Gavin Bogdanchik, Brody Gullo and Drew Schaefer also had exceptional seasons.
Bogdanchik caught nearly every game and only gave up five stolen bases the entire season. He was on base more than 20 times on 11 hits and scored seven times. Gullo played shortstop nearly every game. He led the team in runs scored with 11 and an on-base percentage over .400. Schaefer, a sixth-grader, started nearly every game at first base. He was on base 21 times (11 hits, seven walks and three HPBs).
In the playoffs, Polo Park scored twice in the top of the first in the game against Western Pines after a walk to Gullo and a single by Bogdanchik. The team added a run in the third inning when Schaefer got hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. They got an insurance run in the last inning when Gullo got a two out walk, stole second and scored on a Bogdanchik single. Etwaru pitched a gem, going six innings and striking out nine with no walks — all while only throwing 65 pitches.
Against Watson B. Duncan, Etwaru struck out 10 and walked three. Gullo, Brandon Luongo, Bogdanchik, Schaefer and Jacob Proenza-Smith also had a great game.
ABOVE: Polo Park catcher Gavin Bogdanchik tags out a Wellington Landings runner trying to score.