By Elio Velez
Aviation pitcher Elias Martinez used his time in ninth period Spanish Monday afternoon to catch up on some needed classwork, thinking he would not be needed in the team’s game.
The senior arrived at Juniper Valley Park 10 minutes after a scheduled 4 p.m. start against Queens High School of Teaching, but Martinez quickly began to warm up when he felt his right arm might be needed with the Flyers down four runs in the top of the second.
“I got here at 4:10,” Martinez said. “I knew they were thinking of having to make a change and everyone had to step it up.”
Martinez pitched 5 1/3 solid innings of needed relief for starting pitcher Michael Russell, and the Aviation bats gave him plenty of run support for a 16-7 come-from-behind victory in a PSAL Class A Queens East Division game.
It was another victory in what has been a renaissance season for the Flyers after winning just five games last year. The Monday afternoon victory for Aviation improved their record to 10-3 and keeps them one game behind current division leader Cardozo.
Aviation Coach Michael Fischer says his team has developed a tight chemistry that has allowed their pitching and hitting to shine in a crucial situation. A loss to the 1-12 Queens High School of Teaching would have been damaging.
“We’re 10-3. We’re fighting for a good [playoff] seed,” Fischer said. “The biggest turnaround is the two big starting pitchers, [Elias] Martinez and [Junior] Ramirez. You can see in different games. It also has a lot to do with the offense because it’s a state of mind. We are hitting from top to bottom.”
Martinez and Ramirez are tied for the team lead with five wins each and the aces have helped the Flyers be competitive against some of the top teams in Queens. Aviation’s offense has been on a roll of late by plating six or more runs in their last six games.
Ramirez, the junior righty called “Rubber Arm” by his teammates for his ability to pitch whenever called upon, says new additions such as catcher Jason Pastuizaca have made an impact.
“It’s our chemistry. We added a few players like Joel and Jason and that’s helped out,” Ramirez said.
With three games remaining in the regular season, Aviation feels confident they can make noise in the post-season. Martinez pointed out his team’s competitiveness in a 3-0 defeat to Cardozo and 8-6 loss to Queens A West leader John Adams.
“I can believe we can knock some people out in the playoffs,” Martinez said. “We want to show people that we can go far.”