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Reports of Pace's demise exaggerated

I stand guilty as charged for thinking Pace would struggle this season in baseball.

Granted, there's no denying the team has had a drop-off in power hitting after losing great hitters like Adrian Cardenas and Chris Marrero, but that doesn't mean they can't compete with top-flight teams.

They have a stud lefty in Chris Hernandez. He was hitting the low 90s last night in front of a bunch of scouts last night. I counted at least 7 radar guns behind the plate, checking out Pace's dominant ace. Add lefty Anthony Gallego to the picture and the Spartans, if healthy, have a solid 1-2 pitching punch for the postseason.

Their lineup can also make good contact starting with the top of the lineup with outfielder Ozney Guillen - son of Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie - and with leading hitter third baseman Miguel Sanchez. First baseman Rene Mateo, who went 2 for 3, is a great contact hitter.

Pace's toughest obstacles in the regional playoffs are Cardinal Gibbons and Merritt Island. But the Spartans have quality wins like American Heritage, Flanagan and close losses to Palm Beach Gardens and Sarasota.

Pace is still good enough to make a run to reach Sarasota again if they can win one of these big games at home.

But repeating looks difficult with still undefeated Orlando Bishop Moore, which is ranked 18th nationally right now by Baseball America, in the way.