By Joseph Staszewski
If John Adams is going to repeat its feat and reach the PSAL Class A baseball semifinals and beyond, the team is going to have to do so without a bona fide offensive star.
Spartans Coach Glenn Beyer sees this group as one who needs to win with a collective effort after the graduation of standout shortstop Jeffery Valera. The closest thing they have to an offensive standout is current shortstop and ace pitcher Anderson DeLeon, who has 12 RBIs and 12 runs scored in 12 games, but has a game based on speed more that power.
Instead, Adams will have to get to work like they did in a 7-4 win over Queens rival Cardozo last Friday. John Adams, which has juggled its lineup constantly throughout the season, saw nine players combine for six hits and had seven different players score runs.
“We have to scrap to get runs,” Beyer said.
Much of Adam’s success so far has to do with the sometimes excessive patience Beyer preaches at the plate, often taking pitches when other teams swing freely. It forces pitchers to throw strikes and leads to extra base runners for the Spartans, which walked eight times against Cardozo.
“I believe you can go up to home plate without a bat and score three or four runs a game in PSAL baseball,” the coach said. “You can’t throw three strikes.”
Beyer, who is in his 21st year, understands nothing is a given in the playoffs even with his 11-1 record, likely division title and high seed. So much has to go right when you play top programs like James Monroe, George Washington, Tottenville, Grand Street and Telecom, which are deep with talent.
“It’s so difficult,” he said. “I love the people who always say, ‘Let’s go to the final four and win a championship.’ It’s so near impossible.”
That doesn’t mean he believes his team can’t do it, saying they have a puncher’s chance. John Adams is ripe with experience from last year’s run along with hungry newcomers like sophomore No. 8 hitter Bryan Aponte who delivered the game-winning hit against the Judges. It also has a pitcher in DeLeon, who can shut down any lineup on any given day.
“He carried us last year,” Beyer said. “Anderson has the ability to beat any team in the city and that’s why you have a chance in a playoff game.”
His players are anxious to try to get back after a difficult 13-4 loss to eventual city champion Grand Street Campus in last year’s semifinal.
“We are not here to lose,” DeLeon said. “We are here to win and play.”