By Dylan Butler
They were swings that on any other day would have been considered bad and probably would have drawn the ire of Grover Cleveland baseball coach Jack Ciano.
But on Friday, when heavy winds turned Cleveland’s artificial field into a blustery nightmare for pitchers, Ray Fruggiero and Gabriel Aracena’s decision to chase high fastballs actually worked in their favor. Both hit home runs in a five-run second inning en route to the Indians 9-3 win over visiting Van Buren.
“The pitch was high, a letter-high fastball,” Aracena said of his two-run blast that put Cleveland ahead, 6-0. “When I can extend my arms, I can drive those pitches well.”
As if the wind wasn’t enough to deal with for Van Buren hard luck pitcher Brian Berg, who is 0-4 with a 2.59 earned run average, both home runs were hit in the gap in left-center field, which almost always means trouble at Cleveland.
Fruggiero gave Cleveland (14-7, 6-5 Queens West A) a 4-0 lead with his three-run dinger. Jason Pezzotti relieved Berg in the third and did well, giving up just a solo homer to Mike Boothby in the third inning. He also helped his own cause with a two-run homer to left field during the VeeBees three-run fourth-inning, cutting their deficit to 7-3.
Before the fourth inning, Cleveland starter Ricky Perez was nearly unhittable, striking out five and allowing just one hit through the first three innings.
But just as Berg was victimized by the wicked winds, as was Perez, who was pulled after four innings in favor of Jose Abreu.
“Ricky threw 80 pitches in four innings. It’s unfair to ask a kid to pitch in this wind,” Ciano said. “It was not a day for pitchers, it was a day for hitters.”
Cleveland added a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth inning on Jesus Varela’s two-run single to left field.
“As much as I talk to them, it takes a lot of hard work,” Van Buren head coach Neil Baskin said of his inexperienced group that fell to 2-10 in Queens East A. “Either they don’t know or aren’t talented enough to overcome their shortcomings. They’re nice kids, they come to practice and play everyday but the talent just isn’t there.”
Bayside 14, Edison 1. Jason Espinal was 3-for-3 with three RBIs and Anthony McCardy struck out 10 in a two-hitter that snapped a six-game losing streak for Bayside (11-11, 5-8 Queens East A).
Townsend Harris 12, Arts and Business 8. Cal Argento belted a two-run home run and Maurice Stevenson was 2-for-4 with two RBIs for Townsend Harris (6-3 Queens Central B).
John Adams 10, Aviation 5. Johnny Lluberes was 4-for-4 with three RBIs and Victor Santos was 2-for-4 with three RBIs for Adams (23-5-1, 12-0 Queens West A).
Cardozo 12, Francis Lewis 3. Mike Lenzo struck out eight and Antonio Reyes had three RBIs for Cardozo (16-4, 11-0 Queens East A).
Grover Cleveland 6, Long Island City 1. Boothby picked up the win, striking out nine and giving up four hits while Dan Fruggiero hit his third home run of the year for the Indians.
John Bowne 9, Van Buren 1. Ozzie Negron belted a two-run homer and winning pitcher Anthony Brisita fanned 10 for Bowne (7-7 Queens East A).
Forest Hills 7, Robert F. Kennedy 5. Eddie Perez led Forest Hills (14-9, 7-2 Queens North B) with two RBIs.
Franklin K. Lane 8, Flushing 6. Estanis Ramos’ two-run double in the sixth inning won it for Lane (8-1 Queens Central B), who also received a solid performance from Melvin Cartagena, who went 4-for-4 with four RBIs.
Bryant 10, Transit Tech 3. Edison Baez struck out 11 and Charlie Santos belted a three-run triple for Bryant (8-1 Queens North B).
Aviation 4, Francis Lewis 1. Mario Arthur went 2-for-3 and hurled a four-hitter for Aviation (13-10, 3-9 Queens West A).
John Adams 10, Richmond Hill 0. Victor Santos was 2-for-3 with a grand slam and five RBIs for the Spartans.
Queens Vocational 9, Townsend Harris 6. Randy Robels’ bases-clearing double in the fifth inning put Queens Vocational (5-4 Queens North B) ahead for good.
Cardozo 13, Newtown 1. Danny Rosenbluth was 3-for-3 with a pair of triples and an RBI for the Judges.
John Bowne 6, Aviation 4. Eric Garcia belted a two-run dinger for the Wildcats.
Richmond Hill 9-6, John Bowne 4-4. Luis Abreu was 3-for-4 with two RBIs in the opener and then went 2-for-4 and drove in the game-winning run in the seventh inning of the nightcap for Richmond Hill (6-7 Queens East A).
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.