GW books return ticket to PSAL 'A' title game
George Washington coach Steve Mandl has seen some pretty good offensive teams come from his dugout in 28 years.
Mandl watched his Trojans put on a explosive offensive display at Lafayette HS Saturday as fourth-seeded George Washington exploded for a 16-3 victory over Telecommunication to sweep a best-of-three PSAL Class A semifinal series.
George Washington, the reigning PSAL champions, will atempt to win a second straight title Friday at 7 p.m. against second-seeded Grand Street Campus at MCU Park.
The Trojans have plenty of depth, power and speed in their lineup, but they’ve not come together on a consistent basis, according to Mandl. But in the postseason, GW has shown signs that the bats are coming alive to help a deep pitching staff.
George Washington (18-2) squeaked by the eighth-seeded Yellow Jackets Friday for a 4-3 Game 1 win. That wasn’t going to happen Saturday with the Trojans scoring five runs in the top of the second to take a 6-0 lead, and 10 more additional runs in the final two innings.
Mandl believes his team is full of confidence as the playoffs have progressed. With the exception of that Game 1 win over Telecomm, the Trojans have scored eight or more runs in each of the first three rounds. The lineup has been bolstered by the return of outfielder Fernelys Sanchez, who recovered from a broken left fibula. The senior has elongated the batting order by hitting eighth.
“We’re that kind of team,” Mandl said. “We’ve been a little up and down, but when we are on, we’re like that. We really want it and it’s the right time to do it. We can swing it. They really came to play. They really want it.”
Yellow Jackets freshman pitcher Nicholas Candelario showed a bit of nerves against a fearsome lineup in the second inning. With the Trojans already holding a 1-0 lead, No. 9-hitter Henry Rodriguez increased the George Washington lead with an two-run single.
Joshua Mercado relived Candelario with the bases loaded and promptly gave up an RBI single to catcher Nelson Rodriguez. The Trojans scored five times in the inning to take a 6-0 lead.
That was plenty of run support for Trojans pitcher Edwin Corniel, who delivered five innings of no-hit ball against Telecomm (16-4) until it was broken up on a two-run single in the top of the sixth inning by Alex Fernandez. The right-hander missed last year after transferring from A.P Randolph, but has seamlessy fit into a deep pitching rotation with Kevin Torrez and Reynaldo Hernandez.
Alexis Torres, who got the save in the seventh inning in Game 1, was a force in the final two innings. The centerfielder had a two-run single in the sixth, and cleared the bases with a grand slam in the top of the seventh.
Torres has seen Grand Street, as the teams battled to a 3-3 tie in a scrimmage earlier this season. The championship experience many of the Trojans have may play a big factor Friday.
“We got guys expected to go in the draft this year,” Torres said. “We showed today we are hungry and we are ready for them. I feel very confident we’ve been there and know what it’s like.”
Nelson Rodriguez says it’s going to be an intense battle Friday. The Trojans have Randy Rodriguez at the top of the order as well as emerging freshman third baseman Wesley Rodriguez to add to the mix. The Wolves feature the Maryland-bound duo Jose Cuas and Kevin Martir in a similarly deep lineup.
The Trojans catcher says his team has the winning intangibles to be the last one standing Friday.
“I had a feeling it was going to be us and Grand Street in the final and now we got it,” Nelson Rodriguez said. “We have a good feeling we can beat them in the championship.”