By Joseph Staszewski
Bryan Aponte watched Benjamin Cardozo intentionally walk Elvis Clime to load the bases for him with two outs in the bottom of the sixth and John Adams trailing by a run. He stepped to the plate with his mind set on making them pay.
“I had to do my part of the job,” Aponte said.
The sophomore, who was hitless on the afternoon, got ahead early before seeing the count run full against Judges reliever Matthew Fehr. On the next pitch he saw Aponte hit a sinking line drive to centerfield for a two-run single. The ball skipped under Adrian Castano’s glove and Aponte and Clime both came around to score to give the Spartans insurance runs.
“I had confidence in Bryan,” junior shortstop Anderson DeLeon said. “I knew Bryan was going to be clutch.”
The big hit helped host John Adams secure an important 7-4 win in a PSAL Class AA baseball crossover game May 3. It was a game between Queens’ top two PSAL clubs, which play in separate divisions with major seeding implications. The Judges won last year’s meeting 9-8.
“It was a big win,” DeLeon said. “They were talking a lot last year when we played them. I just wanted to come back and even the score.”
Cardozo made things interesting in the top of the seventh against Adams’ reliever Ezequiel Tavera. It loaded the bases with two outs thanks to a double by Castano, a single from Fehr and a walk to Kevin Bongiovanni. Tavera, a senior pitching in his first league game, was able to bear down and get a strikeout to end the game.
“He made it interesting, but ultimately he had success,” Adams Coach Glenn Beyer said.
The game featured multiple lead chances.
Cardozo (11-2) led 2-0 after the first inning due to RBI hits from Keith Rogers and Fier. The Judges have played all season without their top two pitchers on the mound. Stony Brook-bound ace Connor Doyle tore his ACL and Castano had shoulder tightness, according to Coach Ron Gorecki.
“This team is really surprising me,” he said.
Adams (11-2) got the run back in the bottom of the frame when Jordyn Correa singled home DeLeon, who had tripled to make it 2-1. The Spartans went ahead 3-2 in the top of the fourth on an RBI triple from Tommy Pimentael and DeLeon later singled him home. Cardozo retook the lead on a two-run triple from Ariel Paez in the top of the sixth for a 4-3 lead.
“I just got my hands out, the head of the bat out and drove it the way it was pitched,” Paez said.
Gorecki didn’t second-guess his decision in the seventh to intentionally walk Clime, who was also Adam’s starting pitcher, saying he’d rather have a team’s eighth hitter beat him. It was the second gamble that didn’t work out for him. Gorecki send Castano home from third on a wild pitch that went to the backstop, but he was tagged out to end the top of the fifth.
“I took a gamble with Adrian stealing home,” Gorecki said. “I thought he was safe.”
John Adams is safely in the playoffs with the win and that was the only thing that mattered to Beyer, who led his team to the city semifinals last year. He said he had a good feeling Aponte would come through, who doesn’t strike out much.
“He’s done a really good job putting the ball in play,” Beyer said. “He’s made some good contact. Sometimes you’re successful.”