Grand champs: Grand Street wins Monroe title
Grand Street Campus coach Melvin Martinez noticed something was wrong in the first few innings of the Monroe Tournament championship game against Xaverian.
The Wolves batting order chased some bad pitches thrown by Xaverian left-handed pitcher Tommy Anselmo in the first three innings and the defense committed three errors resulting in a three-run deficit in the fourth inning.
It was time for Martinez to talk to his team.
“I told the kids in the first three innings, we were swinging at first pitch curveballs, lazy ground balls to third and short, bouncing into double plays,” Martinez said. “If we lay off that curveball, lay off that pitcher’s pitch, and force them to give you something we can handle, we would hit the ball better.”
The potent Grand Street offense indeed came alive to score seven runs and send 11 batters to the plate in the bottom of the fourth to power the Wolves to a 13-6 victory and capture the Monroe Tournament championship for a second year in a row Friday afternoon at Monroe HS in The Bronx/
The energetic Grand Street players gathered near the pitching mound after the final out, clapping, singing and playing musical instruments. It was the end of an emotional week for the Wolves, who had defeated Bryant in last year’s final.
Shortstop Jose Cuas, who hit the go-ahead two-run double to put Grand Street up 5-4 with one out in the bottom of the fourth, says Grand Street got plenty of confidence it could make a run at the elusive PSAL title by defeating some of the city’s top teams this week.
“Best feeling in the world,” Jose Cuas said. “Our confidence level is up. We just beat four or five great teams that have won in the past. Unfortunately, we haven’t won it yet, but I mean our confidence level has been boosted and hopefully we can do this in June and get a ring.”
Grand Street bounced back from losing 4-0 to reigning CHSAA champions Xaverian in pool play Monday and beat Monroe and Tottenville in back-to-back extra-inning elimination road games.
On Friday, Alex Cuas settled down to get the win as he pitched five-plus innings and allowed six hits. The Clippers took a 2-0 lead in the top of the third on a Eric Kalman sacrifice fly and an RBI single by Sal Taormina. Boston College-bound Gabe Hernandez smoked a two-run homer in the top of the fourth to give Xaverian a 4-1 lead.
Grand Street heeded Martinez’s advice to be patient in the bottom of the fourth. Gerry Gonzales, the hero on the mound Thursday against Tottenville, and Duran drew walks to begin the inning. Basael McDonald walked to load the bases with one out, and second baseman Elijah Rodriguez delivered an RBI single to cut the deficit to 4-3.
Jose Cuas then scalded a two-run double to right-centerfield to give Grand Street the lead and Kevin Martir followed with an RBI single to make it 6-4. Gonzalez came up for the second time and hit a two-run single to leftfield for an 8-4 advantage.
Xaverian coach Lou Piccola wasn’t displeased with the way the defending CHSAA champions performed overall in the tournament. John Pena and Frank Kaplan combined on a four-hit shutout against Grand Street on Monday and the Clippers defeated Iona Prep 5-4 on Wednesday in a matchup of CHSAA title contenders.
Piccola said his pitching staff was a bit stretched by the seven games the Clippers played in the tournament. That is why Piccola had an eye on keeping his staff healthy enough to take on the rest of the CHSAA.
Xaverian hosts Holy Cross on Saturday and have league games coming up against McClancy and St. Francis Prep.
“I believe in maintenance, taking care of your arm and the long term haul, instead of the short haul,” Piccola said. “It’s great to be in the final game, and we could have played better but we didn’t. That’s the nature of trying to win a big game like this.”
Tottenville 6, John Adams 3
Michael Sullivan hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the third inning as the Pirates captured the third place trophy in the Monroe Tournament consolation game on Friday. Senior pitcher Matthew Tanzi threw 4- 2/3 innings to get the victory and Jonathan Dilluvio recorded the save. Jorge Barahona and Adonis Castillo each had RBIs for John Adams.
Monroe Tournament Awards
In a post-game ceremony, tournament organizer Mike Turo announced that McDonald, Grand Street’s speedy centerfielder, was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. McDonald went 1-for-2 against Xaverian and drove in a run in the top of the fifth inning.
Grand Street left-hander Gerry Gonzalez took home the Most Valuable Pitching award. The senior delivered an outstanding semifinal performance against Tottenville in allowing an eight-inning, one-hit gem, retiring the final 14 batters he faced.
Xaverian third baseman Eric Kalman, who is George Washington-bound next season, received the Monroe Tournament batting champion award with a .438 average.