Key West High baseball coach Ralph Henriquez was still seething Thursday afternoon over his team’s effort in a season-ending 9-0 loss to iMater Charter in a state-playoff regional playoff game Tuesday night at Rex Weech Field.
“I was embarrassed by our performance in front of a tremendous crowd,” Henriquez said. “There was a sense of giving up.”
It was the second time this season the Conchs lost to iMater, which advanced to the semifinals with only a 6-12 record.
Henriquez especially was troubled because the loss came after two inspiring victories in the District 16-5 A tournament, including the title game against Gulliver Prep, a team the Conchs had lost to seven consecutive times.
But in the end, Tuesday’s game was no surprise for a team that all season displayed a startling offensive ineptness.
Key West had only five hits against pitcher Jason Montoya — who was throwing as hard in the seventh inning as he was in the first. Even the defense, a strong point most of the season, was shoddy. The Conchs committed five errors.
Conch starter Kyle Iarrobino got in trouble early because of wildness. Andrew Karch and Antonio Knowles also pitched.
The Conchs quietly averaged a shade more than four runs a game this season.
“We had four batters who played every day who hit under .180,” Henriquez said. “Most of the others were around .200, and we had only one .300 hitter, Jason Garcia. And we had no big RBI guy. We hit balls that didn’t go anywhere.”
“It’s a miracle we won the district tournament.”
The team finished 13-15. “I’d never had a losing season anywhere,” Henriquez said.
And so summer workouts approach, and Henriquez hopes his small-statured players can get bigger and stronger. Can Henriquez, who will turn 60 in August, maintain his enthusiasm for another season?
“I think I can,” he said. “I still have the energy and I love these kids. But there’s a right way and a wrong way,”