As Summit Christian faces potential closing, baseball team focuses on state tournament
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
by Matt Porter
If the on-going news of the potential closing of Summit Christian School has had an affect on the baseball team, the players aren't showing it.
Wednesday morning, they travel to Port St. Lucie for a 1 p.m. Class 1A state semifinal game against two-time defending state champion Deltona-Trinity Christian.
The 40-year-old school in suburban West Palm Beach faces a foreclosure lawsuit, setting up a possible sale. The school got some good news Tuesday, reaching a tentative agreement with its lender, Evangelical Christian Credit Union, which will lease Summit's land back to the school for the upcoming school year.
"So long as the school continues to have the support of its faculty, students, parents and staff, Summit Christian will be open next year," said Michael Weeks, an attorney for the school.
Though the 600 students at the suburban West Palm Beach school have had to ponder an uncertain future, the Saints baseball team has been preparing as usual, even if Wednesday's game could have been the last in school history.
"It doesn't affect us at all," junior catcher John Silviano said. "We're not worried about it. It's about this year, this group of students. No matter what, we're gonna play our game."
According to Silviano, that "kind of puts pressure on the team," but only because if they're leaving, they want to follow the basketball team, which won its first state title this winter. "If it's the last year of the school, we'd like to tie it up with two state championships," Silviano said.
First comes Deltona-Trinity. Both teams have strong pitching, a deep lineup, and a schedule that stacks up with the larger schools in the area. There's a widely-held belief that small school teams can't compete with large schools, that eye-popping player stats and dominant won-loss records come with an asterisk. Couldn't do that at our level, some big-school advocates cry.
"That's a big myth," Summit Christian coach John Drouin said.
A 45-0 district win over Berean Christian notwithstanding, Summit (25-5) has wins over Santaluces, Seminole Ridge and Boca Raton. The Saints had late-inning leads of three runs or more in losses to Palm Beach Central, Palm Beach Gardens, Atlantic and Park Vista.
"The games we lost we were winning," Drouin said, recounting errors that led to the losses. "Hopefully it doesn't happen Wednesday," Drouin said. "We can hit. If we don't make errors, and Costa's on, we'll be OK."
Summit ace right-hander John Costa (7-1, 2.83 ERA) has 83 strikeouts and 12 walks in 59.1 innings. A senior committed to Florida International, Costa works in the low-90s and has command of an outstanding curve and good slider.
"He's always on," said Silviano, who has caught Costa for three years.
Silviano (.420), along with senior shortstop Matt Rogers (.432), senior left fielder Timmy Williams (.443) and sophomore first baseman Efren Sanchez (.436) anchor the lineup.
Trinity will use junior Matt Burkhead, who also throws in the low-90s and uses a slider with a nasty bite. The Eagles have several weapons in the bullpen, including 6-foot-7 fireballer Evin Lunch, projected to be a late-round major league baseball draft pick.
"They've won the last two state championships and have two kids that throw 90. But that doesn't matter to us," Silviano said of Trinity Christian.
Neither does a possible dissolving of the school. In the weeks leading up to the tentative deal, Drouin didn't talk with the team about the financial hardship.
"We're sitting tight," he said, before word of the deal broke. "God willing, we'll be here. If we're not what a heartbreaker."
No matter what happens in the future, the players say they'll act the same Wednesday. They'll make the hour-long drive to the stadium, wearing freshly-shaven playoff Mohawks, riding on a bus buzzing with sometimes-unintelligible chatter.
"We always say this chant before each game," Silviano said. "Usually it's a good luck charm. We've been doing it for the past two years. It's like 'Oo-sah-fah, oo-sah-fah, hit 'em over the head with a big kabasah.' One of our coaches came up with it, and we went with it. I don't know. It seems to work.
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Deltona-Trinity Christian (22-7) vs. Summit Christian (25-5)
When: Wednesday, May 18 at 1 p.m.
Probable pitchers: Trinity RHP Kenny Burkhead (6-1, 1.46, 51 SO, 16 BB in 33.2 IP) vs. Summit RHP John Costa (7-1, 2.83, 83 SO, 12 BB in 59.1 IP).
How they got here:
About Trinity: Like Summit, Trinity plays a 6A-heavy schedule that matches up with any team in its area Trinity has made four straight final fours and is the two-time defending state champion The Eagles return three starters from last year's team Burkhead, a junior, works 88-92 and throws an effective slider. He's batting .526 and plays center field when not pitching Would-be ace Evin Lunch has been relegated to the bullpen because of shoulder tendinitis. Lunch, a 6-foot-7 fireballer who throws in the mid-90s, is projected as a mid- to late-round MLB Draft pick Another bullpen weapon is Matty Ferreira, a right-hander who throws in the high-80s and plays shortstop (batting .453) The Eagles count on senior left fielder and leadoff man Matt Wisniewski (.482, 8 HR, 22 RBI) and No. 2 pitchers and first baseman Daniel Moritz (.433, 5 HR).
Favorite: Deltona-Trinity Christian.
Next up: Miami-Brito/Monticello-Aucilla Christian winner in state final, Thursday, May 19 at 4:05 p.m.