By Dylan Butler
As he stepped to the mound in what was essentially an abbreviated do-or-die two-inning game, John Adams senior pitcher Johnny Lluberes didn’t feel quite right.
Lluberes isn’t used to coming out of the bullpen, and he certainly isn’t used to throwing his first pitch of the game out of the stretch with a runner on first base.
But after Saturday’s second game of the PSAL ‘A’ best-of-three semifinal series was washed out with No. 4 John Adams and top-seeded Tottenville tied at 5 in the top of the fifth inning at Coney Island’s KeySpan Park, an uncomfortable Lluberes took the hill at the College of Staten Island Sunday.
The Pirates didn’t make him feel any better, though, as they scored 11 runs in the final three innings en route to a 16-7 romp and a 2-0 sweep of the series.
Tottenville (35-2) advances to the city championship game Friday at 7 p.m. at Shea Stadium, where the Pirates will face No. 2 Monroe, which also swept its best-of-three series over Bronx rival Walton, 2-0.
“I guess I wasn’t mentally warmed up,” Lluberes said after giving up 10 runs — seven earned — on eight hits in three innings. “I usually start a game, so it was an awkward feeling coming in to pitch.”
After striking out the first batter he faced, Lluberes walked Michael LoSavio to bring up the top of the Tottenville lineup and Spartan killer John Benedetto, who was 6-for-9 with five runs scored in the series.
Benedetto’s sacrifice fly to center field advanced the runners and both scored on Alex Filis’ double to left field in the fifth inning to break the deadlock.
“They’re one of the best hitting teams I’ve ever seen in my four years,” said Lluberes, one of five seniors on the John Adams team.
Tottenville tacked on two more runs in the fifth inning and then plated seven in the sixth inning to put the game away.
“Yesterday we didn’t do what we could do, but today, once we got started, everything came together and everyone hit the ball,” said Sal Iacono, whose RBI-double to right put the Pirates in front, 12-5. “Alex really got us going with his hit.”
In a 7-3 loss in game one Friday at the College of Staten Island, the Spartans jumped ahead 2-1 on back-to-back RBI hits by Louis Gioppo and Alex Cordero.
But Tottenville took advantage of a misplayed ball by Lluberes in right field — his second in the first three innings — as Filis smacked Lucas Tellado’s 0-2 pitch for a leadoff double that led to a four-run outburst.
Red-hot Tom Ambrosole, who was 5-for-10 in three playoff games, capped the inning by belting Tellado’s 3-2 low inside fastball over the wall in left field to put the Pirates in front, 5-2.
“Against Tottenville you have to play very good baseball and you can’t give them four outs,” said John Adams coach Genn Beyer. “That was the key inning right there. The key was to shut them down right there.”
Tellado gave up seven runs — six earned — on seven hits while striking out four and walking seven in 3.1 innings to pick up the loss for John Adams.
“Coach told me to just relax, don’t do it all yourself and just go out and play your game,” Ambrosole said of the advice Tottenville coach Tom Tierney Jr. gave him before the playoffs. “Once the playoffs started I feel relaxed.”
John Adams (35-5-2) made things interesting in the top of the sixth inning, cutting its deficit to 7-3 when Tottenville starter Steve Cresci (5.2 innings, six hits, three earned runs, five strikeouts and four walks) walked Carlos Guzman with the bases loaded on four pitches.
The Tottenville coach called on ace Matthew Dilgen, who got Lluberes to fly out to center field to end the rally. Dilgen closed the Spartans out in the seventh inning to earn the save.
“I had him to close today,” Tierney said of Dilgen, who threw 21 pitches Friday and also started the second game of the series Saturday. “The plan worked out perfectly.”
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, ext. 143.