Stoneman Douglas baseball soars to second state title

Sun Sentinel | By Gari Curreri | June 17, 2021

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School junior Christian Arroyo delivered on both the mound and at the plate, leading the Eagles to the Class 7A state championship with a 5-1 win over the Spruce Creek Hawks at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.

It marked the second state title in school history, the last coming in 2016 when it also won a national championship.

“When I went up there, I knew the first pitch he was going to throw was the heater because he’s going to want to blow it by me,” Arroyo said following the game after his two-out single in the bottom of the sixth inning broke a 1-1 deadlock and helped fuel a four-run rally that delivered the win.

“I just swung at it,” said Arroyo, a Florida International University commit. He was 1-for-2 at the plate for the Eagles (28-2), who finished the year ranked No. 5 in the nation by MaxPreps and No. 2 in the nation by Perfect Game.

Arroyo also tossed 5.2 innings and struck out five and with five hits and two walks. Arroyo (9-0) finished with a 1.44 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 53.1 innings.

Stoneman Douglas junior Sammy Beir picked up his second save in as many days for the Eagles, striking out three batters and allowing no hits in the final two innings. He also pitched 1.2 innings of scoreless baseball in a 3-2 win over Miami Columbus in the semifinal the day before.

Stoneman Douglas coach Todd Fitz-Gerald said the year was a “magical season.”

“I think we were really destined to be there,” he said. “I can tell you so many things that gave us those premonitions along the way. The most fitting thing was when we won the state championship at the end, if you looked at the line score it totaled 17. I still get goosebumps over that. It was pretty surreal.”

It was a reference to the 17 lives lost during the mass shooting at the school on Feb. 14, 2018, that claimed 17 lives and left another 17 injured. Eight seniors on the squad were students at the school the day of the shooting.

“These guys are resilient, they played hard and they deserved it,” Fitz-Gerald said. “They wanted it very bad and they wanted it for the community. We hadn’t talked about (the shooting) for a couple of years. We try not to bring up those memories.

“They knew what we were doing,” he said. “They knew what we were doing it for and who we were doing it for. I couldn’t be happier for that senior class. Four years of high school, they really didn’t have much and this is something they will have for the rest of their life.”

Image: Stoneman Douglas junior Christian Arroyo delivers a pitch in a game this season. He led the team on the mound with a 9-0 record and delivered in the state championship game to help the Eagles to its second state championship in six years. (Gary Curreri/Contributor)

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