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Queens stars relish chance to play at Yankee Stadium

Photo by Yinghao Luo
By Elio Velez

Kely Aponte couldn’t wait for the chance to step foot on the Yankee Stadium field. Not even the wait of an hour and 46 minute rain delay could put a damper on the Rockaway Park native’s spirits.

The Beach Channel star remained excited despite being on the losing end as an assembled PSAL all-star baseball team was defeated 9-0 by the best of Chicago in an inter-city matchup Monday afternoon in the Bronx.

Aponte, a junior who pitches and plays infield for the Dolphins, received the call to take part in a rivalry for bragging rights between New York City and Chicago that was resumed after a decades-long absence.

“It felt great,” he said. “It was a great experience. Not a lot of players get the opportunity to play at Yankee Stadium. My family was very happy for me. I got calls from family in the Dominican Republic and they enjoyed me playing here.”

It was a thrilling moment for Aponte as he finished off a school year full of twists and turns. Aponte and his family lost power at their home for a week and a half after the Rockaway Peninsula suffered major damage following the events of Superstorm Sandy last October.

So the torrential downpour, which delayed the 11 a.m. scheduled start didn’t faze Aponte and his teammates. The PSAL team took its chance to soak in the atmosphere until the rain alleviated to start the game.

“We were tired,” said Aponte, who went for 0-for-2 on the day. “It was actually good for us to chill out for a minute and enjoy watching the stadium. It’s nice to be here.”

An experienced Chicago team of mostly seniors scored twice in the second and plated in six more runs in the third inning. Cardozo right-hander Keith Rogers allowed a two-run double to Jerimah Figueroa and Chicago catcher John Stevenson hit a run-scoring single off against Newtown’s Gerson Jimenez to help build an 8-0 lead.

Telecommunications Coach Ed D’Alessio said his young PSAL squad, composed of juniors and sophomores, was just happy to take part.

“They were happy to be here and they were friendly with the other guys who were downstairs in the locker room,” D’Alessio said. “I think it worked out pretty good.”

Aviation hurler Junior Ramirez, who pitched an inning and two-thirds Monday, is aiming to take back the bragging rights for New York. Discussions are being held to have next year’s matchup at Wrigley Field, according to PSAL Executive Director Donald Douglas.

This matchup has already given Ramirez plenty of good memories.

“Every time I got an out, I looked up in the air, looked up in the lights, I looked at the screen,” Ramirez said. “I just hope it’s my future home.”

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