Missed opportunities cost Hawks in regional semifinals


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Members of the Viera High baseball team start to head off the field moments after their season came to an end with an 11-4 loss to Melbourne in the Class 7A regional semifinals.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

It was a season in which the Viera High baseball team accomplished far more than what was expected.

But in order to fully appreciate that, the Hawks will have to get over the pain of what happened to them Tuesday night.

Leading 4-2 going into the top of the sixth inning of their Class 7A regional semifinal, the Hawks couldn’t close out Melbourne. The Bulldogs tied the score on a two-run single, then blew the game open with a seven-run eighth inning to beat Viera 11-4 at the USSSA Space Coast Complex.

“We had our opportunities,” Viera senior Jordan Kaplan said. “We just couldn’t close the door.”

And that’s where the pain comes in. The Hawks (20-8) had a number of chances throughout the night to pad their lead and put the game out of reach.

Even after Melbourne tied the game at 4-4, Viera had runners in scoring position in the sixth and seventh innings. But in the end, the Bulldogs deserve credit for coming up with the big hits when they had to.

“That was a tough one,” Viera coach Bob Doty said. “We had chances to win. I feel bad for our seniors. Our seniors were instrumental this year for us. You always want to win that last one for them.”

It was the final game for Viera seniors Kaplan, Jordan Allen, Logan Plante, Colton Farrington, Tyler Pruett and Alexie Shytle.

Despite having to play more small ball than traditional Viera teams due to a lack of power bats in the lineup, and with a pitching staff that struggled to find consistency behind Kaplan, the Hawks not only won 20 games, they also beat Melbourne for the district title.

“I told the guys, ‘Man, nobody expected us to win 20 ballgames this year, I’ll guarantee you that, or to win the district, or to win one game in the playoffs,’” Doty said.

“We had a good year. This year, for me, was special. This was a special year because no one expected us to do what we did. We played well. We had a good year.”

While it will be hard to replace players like Kaplan, Allen, Farrington and Shytle, the Hawks still have plenty of young talent with Connor Leary, Declan McDermott, Andrew Brait, Brady Janssen, Luke Brown and Carson Janssen.

McDermott went 2-for-4 to lead the Hawks Tuesday night. Leary had a triple. Kaplan and Brady Janssen each had a hit and an RBI. Allen also had a hit in his final game.

Kaplan, meanwhile, finished the season with an 8-2 record and set a Viera single-season record for victories. The right-hander, who will soon be reporting to the United States Air Force Academy, leaves Viera with a treasure trove of memories.

“Oh my God, it was unbelievable,” he said. “I mean, I wouldn’t take any of these memories back. I made so many memories. It was definitely the time of my life.

“This stadium here … I can’t put it into words. It was unbelievable. It felt like we were in the (big leagues).”