FORT MYERS — Standing on the steaming hot field at Hammond Stadium Wednesday afternoon, Berkeley Prep star shortstop Cade Kurland couldn’t pinpoint any particular reason the Bucs lost 5-3 to Coconut Creek North Broward Prep in the Class 3A final.
“There were a lot of little things, little mistakes, that added up,” Kurland said. “We made more little mistakes than (North Broward Prep), did and that was the difference.”
In the end, it was a frustrating conclusion to a fantastic 28-4 season and the high school career for Kurland, a junior graduating early to play for the University of Florida next year.
For a moment, however, it appeared Berkeley might wrap up everything in a nice, tidy Kurland bow.
The optimism came in the fifth inning when Kurland launched his 13th homer of the year well over the leftfield fence, giving the Bucs a 3-2 lead with only two North Broward at-bats remaining.
Kurland’s brother, freshman lefty starter Rivers Kurland, also appeared to have settled into a nice groove for a sweet finish.
But in the sixth inning, many of the little mistakes piled up.
There was the two-strike pitch left up that North Broward’s leadoff hitter rapped for a double, followed by a walk, a fielder’s choice, another double and an error. The next thing Berkeley knew, North Broward led 5-3.
Like his brother, Rivers Kurland was frustrated with the outcome but not despondent. He was thoughtful and a bit philosophical.
“I wasn’t really nervous, because I believe my stuff (mid-80s fastball with movement, a nasty curve and a solid changeup) is good enough to get good hitters out,” Rivers Kurland said. “But I let some leadoff hitters get on and gave some good hitters some pitches to hit. It was just a few little things that didn’t go right.”
Berkeley did end up collecting more hits, eight, to North Broward’s four. But North Broward (23-9), which won the Class 4A title last year before dropping down to 3A, was simply more timely, opportunistic and clean.
“We just didn’t take care of the baseball, and against a really good opponent in a game of this magnitude you have to take care of the baseball,” said Berkeley Prep coach Richie Warren, who is in his seventh year with the Bucs. “We just felt like we could have done a little better job (Wednesday). But it happens. It was a great season.”
Berkeley, which came into the game ranked No. 2 in Class 3A and No. 6 nationally by Maxpreps.com, was trying to win its first state title since 1976.
Berkeley loses seven players this year to graduation, but Warren remains optimistic.
“We have a lot of talent coming back,” he said. “We will be okay.”