LIC baseball guts out division win against Bryant

By Marc Raimondi

The Long Island City baseball team hasn't come out of the gate strong, but the Bulldogs have been in every game. Their four losses have been by an average of three runs. First-year coach Tom Lehman has marveled at how his players have been able to keep their heads up despite some misfortune.

“Even though we were 1-4, they do have a lot of confidence,” he said.

They kept that swagger even when the situation looked dire against Bryant on Thursday afternoon. The Owls came back from a three-run deficit in the top of the seventh inning to tie the game, but the Bulldogs stuck it out, scoring the game-winner in the bottom half to earn a 4-3 win at home against their Queens A West rivals.

Junior center fielder Darren Villante led off the inning with a single off Bryant right-hander Dennis Strawsacker and stole second. Strawsacker got Rob Pineda to strike out swinging and pitcher O'Brian Martinez to ground to short. But Villante tried to take third on the throw and first baseman Willy Garcia threw wildly to gun him down. The ball went into left field and Villante scored the winning run for LIC (2-4).

“We don't make it easy,” Lehman said. “We needed a win, too.”

The Bryant (5-1) players were shocked with the outcome. The Owls were down, 3-0, in the first inning after RBI hits by Elvis Rodriguez, Justin Powers and Gilbert Martinez. Then, in the seventh inning, they scored three times, on a pair of errors and an RBI single by Garcia.

“We felt the momentum,” Bryant coach Rocco Rotoni said. “Our goal was to play good defense and get another chance.”

It never came. LIC starter Josh Bracero gave up two runs on three hits in six innings. He walked eight batters, but wiggled out of countless jams.

“I expected a good outing,” Lehman said. “He hung in there. He gutted it out.”

Strawsacker was solid in relief, as well. After starter Allan Lucido gave up three runs in the first, Strawsacker came on and gave up only that one unearned run in the seventh and four hits in six innings.

Villante was 3-for-4 with two runs scored, Rodriguez was 2-for-3 and Powers was 1-for-2 for Long Island City. Bryant only had four hits against Bracero and O'Brian Martinez, who came on with no outs in the seventh after Bracero walked the inning's first two batters.

“LIC deserved it,” Rotondi said. “We didn't hit. Our swings were too long today.”

Francis Lewis 12, Thomas Edison 1. Three Francis Lewis pitchers combined to give up only one run on two hits in a victory against Queens A East rival Edison on Thursday at Joe Austin Playground. Adam Alcamo started and gave up one run on a hit before giving way to Ethan Liederman and Jesse Galarza.

Liederman was 2-for-2 with four runs scored and three stolen bases, Eddie Torres was 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored and Phil Stamatis was 1-for-1 with an RBI and two runs scored. Cesar Murillas, Chris Rivera, Jon Bobea and Walter Lopez all each an RBI apiece for Lewis (5-1).

Bayside 8, Forest Hills 2. Commodores starter Calvin Sternick gave up one earned run on two hits in seven innings to lead Bayside over Forest Hills on the road Thursday in a Queens A East game.

Jorge Ynoa was 2-for-4 with two RBIs, a run scored and four stolen bases for Bayside (5-0). Kevin Brown was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run and Carey Morales was 2-for-4 with a run scored.

For Forest Hills (3-3), Jesse Friedman started and gave up only two unearned runs on four hits in five innings. Reliever Mike Fabre gave up five unearned runs in two innings.

Cardozo 8, Newtown 3. George Theodoropoulos gave up only one unearned run on four hits in seven innings and Cardozo beat Newtown in a Queens A East game Thursday in Bayside.

Theodoropoulos, a junior right-hander, also helped the Judges (3-2) with the bat, going 2-for-4 with a run scored. Alex Reinharz, Andrew Nunez and Anthony Spinella all drove in one run apiece for Cardozo.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Marc Raimondi by e-mail at mraimondi@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.

More from Around New York