By Joseph Staszewski
Benjamin Cardozo had multiple chances to break the game wide open. Instead a few runs here and a few runs there had to do and was just good enough against Grand Street.
The defending champion Judges scored in five of the six innings they stepped to the plate and held on to beat the No. 12-seeded and visiting Wolves in the second round of the PSAL Class AA baseball playoffs Friday. No 5 Cardozo visits No. 4 James Madison at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in the quarterfinals.
“We take whatever we can get to win that inning,” junior second baseman Noah Cabrera said.
Cardozo loaded the bases on five separate occasions in the first four innings. It was patient against Grand Street starter Andrew Hernandez and its first reliever Jan Baez. The Judges scored a run in the bottom of the first on an error and two more in the second as Cabrera and Matthew Santos each had RBI singles to help make it 3-0.
Grand Street got on the board in the third when Marcus Chavez was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to make it 3-1. Still Cardozo starter Michael Corona was able to minimize the damage all afternoon.
He stranded seven runners, struck out five and allowed just four hits in five innings of work. It was one of his most consistent outings of the season. Cardozo led by as much as 5-1, thanks to an RBI ground out by Robert Garcia in the third and a fourth inning sac fly from Isaiah Mirabel. The Judges saw that trimmed to 5-3 when he left the game following a two-run double from Grand Street’s Ruben Vasquez.
“Corona grew up today,” Cardozo coach Ron Gorecki said.
Grand Street (12-6) refused to go quietly. It got a run in the sixth off reliever Malik Miller. Chavez and Angel De La Cruz singled to start the top of seventh with the Wolves down 6-4.
Pinch runner John Bencosme was thrown out trying to steal second. A run scored on a Vasquez two-out single, but Miller struck out Chris Mondsesi with the tying run on first.
“They came back,” Corona said. “They scored one run. They were down one. It was really tense.”
Cardozo (15-3), on the other hand is a loose bunch. It has quietly gone about the business winning after a slow start. The Judges have won 11 of their last 12 contests. They have surprised people after losing key pieces from last year’s club. Cardozo is young, but seeing its talent shine through at the right time.
“A lot of people said there is no way you are winning that again,” Cabrera said. “We are like, ‘Alright, just watch.’”