George Washington takes Game 1 in semifinals
As is one of the universal truths of all sports, sometimes making key plays is all about experience. And fortunately for George Washington, Alexis Torres is about as experienced as they come.
“The good thing was that Alexis Torres, who has traveled all over and played in so many different tournaments, was a great option to have out there,” said Trojans head coach Steve Mandl. “I was just hoping he mixed it up and he did just that today."
Torres hit a pivotal homer and pitched the final inning, leading his team to 4-3 victory over Telecom in game 1 of the PSAL Class A semifinals Friday afternoon in Brooklyn.
"I'm used to playing with pressure,” Torres said. “I feel like a bulldog when I'm out there. We're here trying to win things one game at a time."
George Washington got off to a slow start as the Yellow Jackets were able to take a 2-0 lead in the first inning off a Samuel Marquez Jr. RBI single and a bases-loaded walk where junior Joshua Mercado picked up the run.
"We've had slow starts in our last few games, but we don't get down on ourselves,” said senior catcher Nelson Rodriguez. “We focus because we know we have to come through."
The Trojans got on the board in the bottom of the third inning thanks to an RBI double from Rodriguez.
"He came through with a big hit for us and started the game right,” said Torres. “We settled down after that.”
Telecom did answer back as senior Julio Rivera III scored off a groundout at first to regain the lead.
Following a single to center field, Torres was able to pick up a run off two fly ball errors at second and home plate.
By the bottom of the sixth, Torres stepped up to the plate as the leadoff hitter and crushed a homer over the left field wall that went hurtling far beyond the 310-foot mark spray painted on the diamond’s concrete walls.
"It was really big,” Torres said. “I led off and tried to get on base. I wasn't expecting a home run but I knew it was gone when I hit it. I just wanted to do my job and get on base."
"That was the right hit at the right time," said Mandl.
With the pressure mounting on Telecom (13-3) to make a play in the top of the seventh inning, the Yellow Jackets managed to get two on with one out. It was at that point that Mandi decided to go with the proven experience of Torres in such a high-pressure situation.
On the next play, Telecom freshman Austin Ruiz hit a single that got the bases loaded. It was at that point that Torres’ calm really saved the game.
"The first pitcher [Kevin Torres] definitely could have stayed in,” Mandl said. “He only threw 80 or so pitches. It's his birthday and I think he may have been a little hyper. I was hoping he would get the two outs, but I was a little afraid that a hit could go through. I would curse myself, especially when I have such a talent waiting."
"I had butterflies,” Rodriguez said. “It was bases loaded with one out. I thought we were going to be in a jam there, but our pitchers did a very good job and we closed it out by striking out those two batters."
Mandi pointed out that while George Washington (14-2) got the win, they could have hit much better and looks for marked improvement in Saturday’s game 2 at Lafayette high school.
"We didn't hit well,” Mandl said. “I know we can hit better than we did. We know we can score runs very quickly. When you're not hitting and you still score a couple of runs, you have to feel good anyway. We knew eventually, whether they were going to give it to us or we were going to earn it, that we would score a couple of runs."