By Stephen Zitolo
Defending PSAL city champion Benjamin Cardozo’s slow start to the 2015 baseball season is now a distant memory.
The Judges, who lost key seniors Keith Rogers and Christopher Campbell to graduation, opened the year by losing two of their first six league games, after dropping just one a year ago.
Cardozo avenged its lone hiccup since then with a 15-2 home victory over John Bowne in five innings May 8. Bowne beat the Judges 3-2 two days prior, but Dozo’s bounce-back victory keeps them a win ahead of Francis Lewis in the AAA Eastern Division standings. Cardozo is 7-1 in its last eight games, including an impressive win over West 50th Street on April 29.
“Personally I think we should be 14-0, but the weather has been so horrendous,” Cardozo coach Ron Gorecki said. “We just haven’t been able to get outside enough. We are as good as the ball club that went to the stadium last year, they don’t know it yet. But they are starting to arrive as a team right now.”
Cardozo (11-3) came to play John Bowne (9-5) looking for a little payback – and that’s exactly what it got. Judges starting pitcher Devin Haberstumpf said that his team’s seven-game winning streak may have gotten to their heads in the first meeting.
“I felt like we came in to Wednesday’s game with the feeling that we had a good squad and would come away with an easy win,” Haberstumpf said. “Today we fought hard and we came away with the win.”
In that 3-2 loss, the Judges had a tough time scoring against Bowne ace Elvis Torres-Devargas and watched shortstop David Amarante have a big day at the plate.
“They have a kid over there named Elvis that threw a heck of a game against us on Wednesday,” Gorecki said. “He’s a wonderful player. He and the shortstop over there beat us single handedly. “
But Cardozo took Bowne out of the game quickly the second time around. It sent nine batters to the plate, and scored four runs on four hits to grab a 4-0 advantage. A two-RBI single by Haberstumpf highlighted the inning.
The Judges, who added a run in the second, broke the game open in the third. Cardozo sent 12 batters to the plate, scoring eight runs on eight hits. In the inning, Haberstumpf had a booming double in the gap to score two more runs to help his own cause. Third baseman Demetri Sanchez had a double and two RBI of his own to increase the lead to 13-1.
Bowne now has has an uphill battle to try and claim the division crown. It is two games behind Cardozo with only two games left on its schedule.
Haberstumpf had the most impressive line of the day. He pitched five innings while giving up two runs on two hits and went 3-for-4 at the plate with five RBI. Sanchez also went 3-for-4 with five RBI.
“I was seeing the ball real well,” Sanchez said. “Coach wants us to put the ball in play and good things will happen. I got lucky with getting a lot of good pitches to hit today and did whatever I could to help my team win.”