By Laura Amato
Danny Alfonzo had made the play more times than he could count.
The Bayside High junior shortstop has thrown to first base so many times it’s become almost routine, but as the ball rolled into his glove Monday, Alfonzo had to admit he was a bit nervous about the play.
He couldn’t mess this one up.
Alfonzo made the throw—just like he’s done so many times before—for the final out of the game, lifting the Commodores to a 3-2 victory over Eleanor Roosevelt in the PSAL “AA” baseball final at Yankee Stadium. It was the first-ever city championship for Bayside.
“I wanted it so bad,” Alfonzo said, “I had so many emotions in my head. I just kept thinking ‘We’re going to win this!’ I just had to relax. I couldn’t make a bad throw.”
It was a nail-biter victory for the Commodores, the No. 2 seed in the tournament, even though they had jumped out to an early lead. Bayside (18-3) looked shaky in the field in the first few innings, racking up four errors.
But Bayside pitcher Dimitri Papazoglou held his own, battling back on the mound and keeping his squad in the game. The junior recorded nine strikeouts in just over six innings of work.
“Dimitri is a competitor,” Bayside coach Pat Torney said. “This is one of those things where the pitch count rule really grinds my gears. He had enough to go and finish that game.”
While Bayside did its best to settle into the game, the Huskies (17-5) were determined to put runs on the board. Roosevelt plated one in the top of the third inning and the bats seemed to come alive in the fifth as the Huskies loaded the bases on an intentional walk to Matt Donenfeld.
Blas Lee made Bayside pay for the move, smacking a hit to left field and scoring Michael Edelma. That was all Roosevelt would get, however, as Anthony Costa threw a perfect ball from left field to catcher Brandon Torres, catching Daniel Jacobson at the plate for the final out of the inning.
“It’s funny, we knew they were going to try and come after our outfielders,” Torney said. “We said, ‘They’re going to make you make the throw.’ Anthony made a great throw and that was a turning point in the game.”
The throw changed the course of the game and, most importantly, gave the Commodores an extra boost of confidence. It also took a good chunk of pressure off Papazoglou’s more-than-capable shoulders.
“I just relied on my fastball,” said the junior. “They looked like they were afraid of it, so I just kept going with it.”
Despite the earlier mistakes, Bayside’s defense was picture-perfect in the seventh, picking up the slack after Papazoglou left the game due to pitch count. The Commodores worked a 1-1-6 double play for the first two outs, before Alfonzo made the throw to first to secure the title.
It may be the first championship in program history, but the Commodores are determined to make sure it isn’t the last. This moment was nice, but it’s only the beginning.
“We put in so much time and effort and look what it got us,” Alfonzo said. “There was a reason for that and it was to win. Hopefully now we’ll come back even stronger next year.”