Edwinning: Senior leads GW to semifinals
Edwin Corniel is embracing the moment.
Following a tumultuous season where he had to ride the pine for the year and watch as his team tasted championship glory without him, the senior George Washington pitcher is intent in reliving that glory – this time on the field.
"I feel the suspension was unfair,” Corniel said. “But my teammates still won the city championship last season. It really motivated me this year to try to graduate with two rings."
After transferring from A. Philip Randolph two seasons ago, Corniel was forced to miss a year due to the suspension of current coach Steve Mandi (penalized due to alleged recruiting violations).
"He always says we were both suspended,” Mandi said. “He wasn't suspended, but that's how he likes to think of things. All year he talked about it. He kind of suffered even more than the other kids because he didn't get to play."
Corniel has been making up for lost time this season and Tuesday afternoon was no exception as he led George Washington to a 10-2 victory over Norman Thomas in the PSAL Class A playoffs at Grand Street.
George Washington came into the game with a measure of revenge on its minds after losing 4-3 to Norman Thomas (14-2) in its previous match-up on the Trojans’ home field. The lost left a bitter taste particularly in Corniel’s mouth, the losing pitcher in that game.
"I'm loving that coach has so much confidence in me,” Corniel said. “Even though I had the previous loss to Norman Thomas and he gave me the ball against them again. I told him that we're not losing to them again."
Despite his proclamation, things didn’t start out well for Corniel as senior Norman Thomas outfielder Paul Garcia blasted a leadoff homer.
"I blame myself 1000%,” Mandi said. “I told him earlier in the day, that the kid [Paul Garcia] is going to go up there to hit the ball over the school. I've seen hit swing like that. And right before the first pitch, I told the team that. But I didn't tell him to throw something off speed first. I was mad at myself because I told him what the hitter was going to do, but I didn't tell him what he should do."
The Trojans didn’t waste time getting on the board though as left-fielder Michael Richardson doubled in the bottom of the first and then scored a run off an error. Richardson, who had been moved to number two in the line-up earlier in the season, has been thriving with the position change. The junior finished with two runs, three RBIs, and two doubles.
"Today we got a lot of walks and we took advantage of that,” Richardson said. “Last game, we were swinging at everything and hitting ground balls. We realized we didn't have to do that. We just stayed back and let them pitch to us this time."
Senior star and potential MLB draftee Fernelys Sanchez also took advantage of what the pitching gave him. Sanchez is returning from a fractured fibula in his left ankle and is rounding into form. He finished with one hit, three runs, three walks, and one stolen base.
“I told him I would let him play only when he’s ready,” Mandi said. “He’s healing quickly, but we have to bring him along slowly. His future is more important than winning a few games.”
Mandi was just as excited than his players, if not more, to return to the semis particularly after missing last season.
"It's great, this is what I live for,” Mandi said. “That's why it was so hard to miss last season. It was like pulling my heart out. But I'm getting to feel the good side again. I would feel a lot better if we win the whole thing, but one step at a time."
The fourth-seeded Trojans (14-2) will face Telecom, which upset top-seeded Cardozo, 6-5. Game one will take place Friday at the Old Boys High School field in Brooklyn.