By Zach Braziller and Marc Raimondi
It took 17 years, with plenty of near-misses, but Grand Street Campus finally broke through under Coach Melvin Martinez.
The Wolves beat George Washington to win their first PSAL city baseball title under the coach, who helped mentor current Yankees farmhand Dellin Betances, among others, in almost two decades on the bench.
Poly Prep didn’t have to wait nearly as long to win again — the Blue Devils took home their second straight NYSAISAA title on the back of right-hander Andrew Zapata, one of the best pitchers New York City has seen in some time.
In the CHSAA, Iona Prep sent out legendary Coach Fred Gallo a winner. The 30th-year coach announced he would retire after the season and the Gaels made sure to win him his second intersectional title against rival Fordham Prep and all-world shortstop Andrew Velazquez.
All-City baseball Player of the Year: Andrew Velazquez, Fordham Prep
At 5-foot-9, he doesn’t look like much of a baseball player. But Velazquez is a five-tool talent, one of the fastest players in the city who can also bash home runs from both sides of the plate.
This year, the senior made the transition to shortstop from center field for Fordham Prep and his defense was top-notch. He was the best lead-off hitter in the five boroughs and wreaked all kinds of havoc on the bases to help Fordham Prep reach the CHSAA Class AA intersectional finals.
A day before his big game to lead the Rams there against St. Joseph by the Sea, Velazquez was selected in the seventh round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Diamondbacks, the highest CHSAA player taken in 10 years.
“He got what was coming to him,” Fordham Prep Coach Pat Deane said. “He earned it.”
All-City baseball Coach of the Year: Melvin Martinez, Grand Street Campus
Good thing he didn’t retire.
When last year ended with a PSAL Class A semifinal series sweep at the hands of Tottenville, Martinez considered hanging up his cleats, so dismayed at his inability to get past the final four with talented teams after 16 years of trying. After constant prodding from his players, the longtime Coach agreed to stay, and the result was a season he’ll never forget.
Grand Street won the school’s first city championship, winning its final 21 games after dropping the league opener to Midwood. Following the 2-1 victory over defending champion George Washington in the finals, Martinez shed tears of joy.
“There are no words to even explain the joy I felt after we got that third out,” said Martinez, who had his leukemia-stricken father Eudalio by his side during the raucous celebration. “It was 17 years.”
P/CF Connor Doyle, Cardozo
Arguably the biggest addition for any team in the city, the Townsend Harris transfer elevated Cardozo to new heights. A fire-balling right-hander, standout center fielder and impact hitter, he guided the Judges to their second straight undefeated league season and first PSAL Class A quarterfinal berth in several years.
P Chris Falcone, St. Joseph by the Sea
His signature performance came in a CHSAA Class AA championship round elimination game, blanking Archbishop Molloy despite bad back spasms. It was the Felician-bound left-hander’s second win of the playoffs and he went 7-0 overall, giving up just three earned runs the entire season.
P Gerry Gonzalez, Grand Street Campus
Grand Street’s potent and deep lineup dominated talk leading up to the PSAL Class A championship game, but after the Wolves won their first crown, all anybody wanted to talk about was Gonzalez’s brilliant performance, a complete-game, four-hitter against the powerful Trojans. It was an apt end to the senior southpaw’s memorable postseason, in which he won three times in dominant fashion.
3B Ernesto Lopez, Grand Street Campus
The first PSAL Class A triple crown winner in recent memory, Lopez, who will attend top junior college LSU-Eunice in the fall, hit his way out of the shadows of bigger-name teammates, leading Grand Street to its first city championship. His booming solo home run at MCU Park in the PSAL Class A final proved to be the difference against defending champion George Washington.
C Kevin Martir, Grand Street Campus
The Maryland-bound senior told Grand Street Coach Melvin Martinez the playoffs are when he’s at his best, and he backed up his big talk. A Xaverian transfer, Martir hit a pair of two-run home runs in the PSAL Class A semifinal sweep of John Adams and drove in the first run of the finals victory over George Washington to become the first player in recent memory to win back-to-back titles in the PSAL and CHSAA.
P Sean McNamara, Fordham Prep
At the beginning of the season, he wasn’t spoken about as one of the best pitchers in the city, because his fastball only tops out in the low 80s. But the junior right-hander’s precision was phenomenal, the most impressive victory coming against St. Joseph by the Sea to get Fordham into the CHSAA city finals.
C Nelson Rodriguez, George Washington
Rodriguez was a rarity at George Washington, a four-year starter and middle-of-the-order mainstay his entire career. While his senior season may have fallen short of his lofty expectations — the Trojans lost in the PSAL Class A city championship to Grand Street — he still hit a robust .500, bashed three home runs, drove in 20 runs and was drafted in the 15th round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Cleveland Indians.
P Brian Russell, St. Joseph by the Sea
The flame-throwing right-hander, who has touched 90 mph with his fastball, was dominant, a 17-strikeout performance against Cardinal Spellman his best outing. The athletic, Rhode Island-bound senior was also named to the New York Post’s All-City track and field team for his jumping prowess.
P Mike Sullivan, Tottenville
The senior was as dominant a two-way player as there was in the entire city with his blistering riding fastball on the mound and power left-handed bat at the plate. The Gloucester Community College-bound left-hander made sure Tottenville won its 28th-straight division title this spring, going 7-1 with 73 strikeouts in 47 innings pitching on the mound and hitting .450 at the plate with three home runs and 20 RBIs.
P Andrew Zapata, Poly Prep
He’s been at his best in the season’s biggest game now twice. For the second straight year, the heavily recruited right-hander with the devastating array of pitches has tossed a complete-game, one-hitter in the NYSAISAA championship, lifting Poly Prep to consecutive titles. It’s no wonder top programs Kentucky, St. John’s, Maryland and Ole Miss are actively recruiting the junior.
SS Stephen Alemais, All Hallows
The Tulane-bound junior is one of the most purely athletic players in the city, truly a five-tool talent. Alemais hit at the top and in the middle of the order for All Hallows, played a splendid shortstop and also served as the team’s flame-throwing closer.
CF Harrison Bader, Horace Mann
Don’t be surprised if you see this name again as a high draft pick three years from now. A five-tool prospect, Bader is headed to Maryland, where he should excel with the same versatile skill set that made him a star at Horace Mann.
P Edwin Corniel, George Washington
Corniel made the most of his only season for George Washington, pitching his way to ace status and thriving in the playoffs. He won three times in the postseason and was brilliant in the PSAL Class A championship game loss to Grand Street, taking the hard-luck loss in a 2-1 setback.
SS Jose Cuas, Grand Street Campus
The four-year starter ended his Grand Street career in style, helping the Wolves win their first city title. While the Maryland-bound shortstop may have struggled during the regular season, he still hit .422 with 32 RBIs — 10 in the postseason — scored 23 runs and stole 15 bases and was a 40th-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in MLB’s First-Year Player Draft, though he plans to go to college.
P/SS Anderson DeLeon, John Adams
An unknown commodity in early April, the tiny right-hander with the blazing fastball and deceptive change-up emerged as one of the PSAL’s top pitchers by June. He went 8-0, allowed just five earned runs in 64 1/3 innings pitched and struck out an absurdly high 96 batters in addition to putting up solid numbers as the Queens A West champion Spartans’ shortstop when he wasn’t on the mound.
P Rosario DiLorenzo, Archbishop Molloy
No, he isn’t the hardest thrower in the city, but he might have been the most mentally tough. DiLorezo, getting by on guts and guile, came back on two days’ rest to beat Moore Catholic in the CHSAA playoffs, setting up Molloy’s final four run.
1B Matt Guzman, Fieldston
The unquestionable MVP for Fieldston, the power-hitting first baseman led the Eagles to its best season in ages, a second-place finish in the Ivy Prep League and the Bronx school’s first NYSAISAA finals berth. His game-tying, three-run homer in a dramatic 8-7, 10-inning victory over league dynamo Poly Prep was the most memorable of a season full of them for Guzman, who will attempt to walk-on at Villanova.
3B Eric Kalman, Xaverian
George Washington University is going to be getting one of the top hitters in the city. Kalman was a line drive waiting to happen, especially late in the season, in helping Xaverian win another CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens division title.
3B Jonathan Ramon, Archbishop Molloy
As far as raw power goes, there wasn’t a more potent slugger in the CHSAA. The Evansville-bound senior came back from a pinched nerve in his back to give Molloy a spark in the playoffs — the Stanners advanced all the way to the final four.
P Shea Spitzbarth, Moore Catholic
At his best, Spitzbarth had electric stuff and racked up the strikeouts against some of the top teams in the city, leading Moore Catholic to the CHSAA Staten Island title. The Molloy College-bound senior also was a nice table setter at the top of the order.
P Vin Aiello, Tottenville
P John Baggs, Moore Catholic
1B/P Adrian Castano, Cardozo
P Anthony Colon, St. Raymond
P/LF Steve Fondu, Fordham Prep
CF Nick Gonchar, St. Joseph by the Sea
2B Julian Lanfranco, Xaverian
P Jeffrey Ledesma, Norman Thomas
CF Basael McDonald, Grand Street Campus
SS/P Jesus Medina, Manhattan Center
P Ian Miller, Berkeley Carroll
SS Randy Rodriguez, George Washington
1B Austin Ruiz, Telecommunications
CF Alexis Torres, George Washington
2B Jeffrey Valera, John Adams