Division 4 Team Of The Week: Week 7 - Detroit Academy of the Americas

Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Michigan Senior Writer

Follow on Twitter- @PrepBaseballM
Follow on Instagram- @pbrmichigan

Interested in attending a PBR Michigan event? Check out our schedule by clicking here.

To view all things Spring HS related, click here.

Division 4 Team Of The Week: Week 7 - Detroit Academy of the Americas

DETROIT - This was hardly expected but Miguel Ambriz is watching it first hand - Detroit Academy of the Americas has yet to taste defeat.

While that has happened to many teams before at this stage of the high school baseball season, it is different with AOA. After all, it is the first season the Prep Baseball Report Division 4 Team of the Week has ever taken the field.

“The first time we tried it only seven kids showed up,” Ambriz reflected on attempting to put together a varsity team at the school that has been in existence for 30 years Pre-K through eighth grade, but only five at the Pre-K through 12th grade level. “This year we had 18 try out for the team. It was amazing to see kids want to play.”

Athletic Coordinator Dion Cowans, an assistant coach of the team along with Miguel Sepulveda-Cardona, is astonished at it all.

“We had 18 at tryouts and we kept them all,” Cowans said, pointing out that 15 dress for each game. “We’re not too far from Western and a lot of kids attend here and then go to Western. The kids don’t come to AOA to play sports. We mold them into athletes. That’s the fun part.”

Of those on the team, only four have played prior according to Cowans, something that surprised Ambriz.

“I had some who had never touched a baseball,” noted Ambriz, who was the middle school baseball coach at the school when the current seniors were in seventh grade. “It was a challenge teaching them. We had five that had played baseball before and knew the basics, but for the most part they weren’t really taking it seriously until we won the first game.”

Then can another win, and another, and another.

AOA is now ranked 23rd in the state in Division 4 and stands at 14-0 after winning the Detroit Public School League Gold Division title this past week in dramatic fashion.

Down the whole game, the Tigers rallied for three runs in the fifth to tie East English Village in the semifinals before scoring the game-winning run an inning later for a 7-6 victory. In the finals, played at Comerica Park, AOA tallied five runs with two outs in the fifth to break a 2-2 deadlock and held on for a 7-4 win.

Yordi Feliz drove in Ricardo Cordova-Alvarado to make it 3-2, with Feliz, Journey Molina Mendoza, Nervic Caraballo De La Cruz and Osvaldo Baldo also scoring runs in the fifth, with Alonso Hernandez providing a big hit.

“These kids are never satisfied,” Ambriz said. “We practice three hours and they want more. They have really good chemistry. We have kids from Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and the Dominican. Not one kid on the team doesn’t speak Spanish.”

The camaraderie is paying off, with Ambriz pointing to three players as vital.

“It took a lot of teamwork, but they were up to the challenge,” Ambriz said. “It really means a lot to win the championship. Yordi Feliz, our senior captain, has really stepped up at shortstop and pitcher, Alonso Hernandez has done a really nice job of pitching and Journey Molina Mendoza, a freshman, is our catcher and a great hitter.”

The team’s performance has not gone unnoticed.

“I wasn’t expecting much, but we’ve had big crowds at home games,” Ambriz said. “Since day one they’ve been showing up.”

The regular season concludes on Friday with districts ahead next week.

“We’re expecting stronger teams in the district,” Ambriz admitted. “We just need to keep working as a team. If we’re down, we’re going to fight back.”