Middle School Baseball, Softball Teams Prepare For Postseason

Polo Park Middle School’s 2022 boys baseball team. Photo courtesy Polo Park Middle School Athletics

The Polo Park Middle School boys baseball team is making every effort to repeat as Palm Beach County champions. After opening the season in September with a loss to Western Pines Middle School, the Stallions have responded with nine straight wins to complete the regular season with a 9-1 record.

The final two wins for Polo Park were significant, as the Stallions swept Lake Shore Middle School in a doubleheader to win the Western Division title.

According to Polo Park head baseball coach Craig Kaliser, his squad has played great team defense, his pitching staff has been finding the strike zone, and the offense has been steady.

“Our defense and pitching have been excellent all year,” Kaliser said. “But we also really started hitting the ball well.”

During the team’s current nine-game winning streak, the pitching staff has been stingy, and the offense has been prolific. The pitchers have given up just six runs, and the offense has scored 81 runs.

“Against our two toughest opponents, we were able to handle Western Pines the second time around by winning 4-0, and then we defeated Wellington Landings Middle School twice — once by the score 10-0, and our second time, we won 4-3 in a come-from-behind win,” Kaliser said.

The aces of the pitching staff are a pair of eighth-grade co-captains, Gabrian Diaz and Tanner Gilman.

In both wins against Wellington Landings, Diaz was the winning pitcher. In the first win, he recorded seven strikeouts and didn’t allow a hit in three and 2/3 innings. In the second win, Diaz pitched a complete game of six innings, allowed two earned runs and struck out nine. In the second game against Western Pines, Gilman pitched all six innings, allowed no runs on two hits and struck out eight.

The leading hitters for Polo Park have been Cole Vatterott and Kieran Rivera. Vatterott batted .750 this season (based on 12 hits in 16 at-bats), had 17 RBIs, scored 11 runs, slugged six doubles and clubbed three home runs. Rivera is batting .444 (8 hits in 18 at-bats). He scored nine runs and had six RBIs.

As winner of the Western Division, Polo Park earned a No. 1 seed in the north-west bracket and a first-round bye in the Palm Beach County Middle School Athletic Association’s baseball playoffs. The Stallions’ opponent in the second round was Independence Middle School. The game was played on Wednesday, Nov. 2, but results were not available at press time. The Stallions must win two games to reach the final, which will be held Wednesday, Nov. 9 against the winner of the south-east bracket.

Western Pines, which finished in second place in the Western Division, also earned a bid to the postseason. On Tuesday, Nov. 1, Western Pines played at Jupiter Middle School in its first-round playoff game. Western Pines won 12-1, which propelled Western Pines to a second-round game at Roosevelt Middle School.

In girls softball, teams from Crestwood Middle School in Royal Palm Beach and Wellington Landings Middle School in Wellington earned berths in the Palm Beach County Middle School Athletic Association’s softball playoffs, which is also a single-elimination tournament.

On Tuesday, Nov. 1, Crestwood hosted Palm Springs Middle School, while Wellington Landings played at home against Independence Middle School. Both softball teams prevailed. Crestwood won 12-2 against Palm Springs, and Wellington Landings outscored Independence, 10-6. The winning pitcher for Wellington Landings was Caroline Duncan, who had eight strikeouts and gave up just three hits in the win.

Both Crestwood and Wellington Landings advanced to second-round games on Wednesday, Nov. 2. Crestwood traveled to Jupiter Middle School, while Wellington Landings was at the Conservatory School at North Palm Beach. The results of those games were not available at press time.

In the overall softball bracket, the championship final will be held on Monday, Nov. 7 at 4:30 p.m. between the winners of the south-east bracket and the north-west bracket.