Caba celebrates with his teammates after throwing a complete game shutout vs Riverview in the district semifinal.

Bloomingdale seniors Myles Caba and Nico Saladino have shared a special bond both as teammates and friends since they were 11 years old.

They first played against each other at the South Brandon Little League and later played together for the Hornets’ AAU team. Caba also played for the South Brandon Little League team with Saladino’s younger brother, Noah Saladino, that was coached by Tony Saladino, lll The team fell one game short of making it to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA.

They did not think that they would be teammates again, as they both went their own separate ways for high school. Caba went to Bloomingdale and Nico went to Brandon, where his cousin Jordan Feist started at shortstop from 2011-2014.

Saladino had great individual success as a freshman and sophomore at Brandon, where he started immediately at shortstop. The team made it to the regional finals in his freshman campaign, but came up a little bit short against powerhouse Venice. As fate would have it, Caba and Saladino’s paths would once again converge when Saladino decided to transfer to Bloomingdale in the 2017 off-season.

“I knew he played a big role in pitching, and I was excited to play with him (Caba) again,” said Saladino.

In the 2017-2018 season, both Caba and Saladino played crucial roles on a Bulls team that won its first district championship since 2007. Caba began the season as the Bulls’ number two starter, a first in his high school career. He rapidly became the team’s ace as the season went on, cranking out 56.1 innings and throwing in all the big games against tough opponents. He had a 2.24 ERA with 67 strikeouts on the season.

Saladino started at shortstop for the Bulls to begin the season, batting at the top of a great lineup. He then stepped up his role when teammate Jessie Hunter went down with an injury. Saladino took the ball in his first ever start on the mound for Bloomingdale against his former Brandon Eagles squad. He did not disappoint, throwing a complete game shutout. That season Saladino went on to throw 25.2 innings with a minuscule 0.27 ERA and 22 strikeouts. He hit .303 with 20 hits and 13 runs batted in as well.

“We can put him on the mound, we can put him at short, either slot, he gives us a chance to win a ball game,” said Caba.

When the season ended, Caba was named the Most Valuable Pitcher by his teammates and Saladino was named Team MVP. Later that off-season, the pair found out that they would once again be teammates at the next level when they signed on to play at South Florida State College. “I was like, what are the odds of that happening,” said Caba. “It’s cool to be teammates with him this long. It’s been awesome, I can’t complain.”

In the 2019 season, Caba had once again taken over the reigns as the team’s ace, leading the team in innings pitched with 56.1. He has a 6-2 record, with a 1.62 ERA and 64 strikeouts. Saladino started the season injured due to a broken collarbone in the offseason. He has regained his form, throwing 24.1 innings with a 1.44 ERA and 17 strikeouts.

“He’s definitely a captain, he keeps our team together and into the games even when he’s not pitching,” said Saladino. “Every time he pitches, you know what you’re going to get out of him. I like how he just attacks and never keeps us defenders bored out there. It always fun to play behind him.”

“These past two years at Bloomingdale are my best memories of playing with him (Caba), seeing him pitch and dominate and winning at districts with him and all that,” said Saladino. “It’s been fun.”

The Bulls lost in the regional quarterfinals to Plant 2-1, ending Caba and Saladino’s senior campaign. They would like the chemistry to continue at the next level.

“Hopefully, he and I both have opportunities to play on the same field when I’m on the mound and he’s at shortstop,” said Caba. “Hopefully, we get to have the chance because I feel like he’s somebody that’s pretty valuable to me when I’m on the mound.”

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Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.