Grand Street finally makes final
Grand Street Campus coach Melvin Martinez was wondering when the curse imposed on his team was going to end.
Martinez has made the playoffs in each of his 17 years coaching. Grand Street has had some very good teams in the past, and a few were viable title contenders. Three times the Wolves reached the PSAL Class A semifinals and each time they fell short, including last year when they were swept by Tottenville.
On Saturday, Grand Street used its bats to break the curse. Middle of the order hitters Jose Cuas and Kevin Martir combined to drive in eight runs as the second-seeded Wolves defeated John Adams, 13-4, to complete a sweep of the best-of-three series at Lafayette HS.
Grand Street (19-1) will take on fourth-seeded George Washington for the PSAL title Friday night at MCU Park.
Martinez wasn’t just elated with the program’s first title game appearance since 1953 when the school was known as Eastern District, but also that his brother Steven, an assistant on his staff, missed the game to be with his fiancé, who went into labor.
“No words to explain the joy I’m feeling now,” Martinez said. “I have had some unbelievable teams in the 17 years.”
Martinez had a feeling prior to the campaign that he was leading a special group that not only has talent, but also the confidence and experience needed to make a deep run.
“I’m happy because I’m going to the championship for the first time in my 17 year coaching career, it’s always our top priority every year,” Martinez added. “I overcame my demons and I’m finally making it to the championship game and I’m so happy.”
The stacked Grand Street lineup helped pick up starting pitcher Miguel Martinez after he struggled in the first few innings. No. 6 John Adams (17-3) received a three run-double by Jeffrey Valera in the bottom of the second to take a 4-3 lead.
If the Wolves lineup wasn’t dangerous before, the addition of former Xaverian star catcher Kevin Martir added even more firepower.
Cuas and Martir, the Maryland-bound best friends, both contributed to giving Grand Street a lead it would not relinquish. Cuas opened the third inning with a single to left field and Martir followed with a deep two-run homer to right-center off pitcher Braylin Nunez to give the Wolves a 5-4 lead.
Grand Street broke open the game in the fourth as Cuas stroked a line drive down the right field line for an inside-the-park grand slam to increase the Wolves lead to 10-4.
Martinez had described it as a blessing that the former Xaverian catcher, who played an integral role for the CHSAA champions last year, arrived at the school.
Cuas was also happy Martir was able to fill in quite nicely in the cleanup spot for departed outfielder Williams Jerez, drafted in the second round by the Boston Red Sox last June.
“I saw him and said, ‘Wow he is here,” Cuas said. “I didn’t know how to react to be happy, to be shocked. No one didn’t expect this, I didn’t expect this. He’s here and he helped us out and we’re in the finals.”
Martir is happy to be part of the ride and is hoping to win a second straight city title Friday night.
“I’m happy with how everything turned out because we made where we wanted to get to,” Martir said. “I’m glad I was a part of it.”