The Saint John Paul II Academy baseball team in Boca Raton is one win away from reaching the state semifinals for the second time in school history.
If the team can win over host John Carroll on May 19, the Eagles will advance to the state semifinals against the winner of the Hialeah Educational Academy-Miami Westminster Christian contest on May 24.
This is the farthest the team has gone since the Class 3A state semifinals in 1996 when it fell to Keystone Heights, 14-5. The Eagles haven’t been this far since 2014 when it reached the Class 3A regional semifinals before losing to Coral Springs Christian, 4-3.
“We have worked extremely hard on a productive approach at the plate,” Saint John Paul II Academy coach Peter Graffeo said, who is in his 11th season at the school. “As always, we have been stressing good fundamentals, situational hitting and putting the ball in play. Of course, we have also been relying on solid pitching and great defense.”
“We are looking forward to competing against an outstanding John Carroll team for the opportunity to advance to the state final four,” he said. “Our program has always competed over the years. Sometimes we kind of fly under the radar as a smaller school, but we have a mindset that we will compete with anyone once we step on the field.”
Graffeo said the team has been built around pitching and defense and that was evident with a 3-0 win over Cardinal Newman and an 8-3 win over The King’s Academy in the regional semifinals.
The Saint John Paul II Academy squad is 22-4 and riding a four-game winning streak following a 4-1 loss to North Broward Prep in the regular season.