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Judges edge Spartans in extra-inning thriller

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With its home field under construction, the Cardozo baseball team has had to play all of its games on the road. But the Judges have used that to their advantage this year, becoming a tougher, closer group.

And it also has allowed them to handle any kind of adversity, such as Friday’s regular season finale at John Adams.

Cardozo trailed 1-0 with two outs in the top of the seventh against one of the city’s elite programs and facing a pitcher in Papo Cabrera who had a no-hitter until the sixth inning.

Piece of cake.

The Judges tied the game on a gutsy delayed double steal and won it in the top of the eighth on Landon Veissy’s RBI-single to right center field, edging Adams 2-1 in an extra-inning game that had a playoff feel to it.

“We knew we had to travel, but we turned a negative into a positive to only make us tougher,” Cardozo coach Pete Douglas said. “I’m really proud of these young men.”

Cardozo heads into the postseason on a high, already having clinched the Queens East A crown while Adams, which lost two of its last three games of the year, lost the Queens West A title for the first time in at least seven years.

Because of winning a tiebreaker, Grand Street Campus — a team Cardozo also defeated in the regular season — takes the crown. Several of Grand Street’s players watched the game from behind the chain-linked fence and celebrated the final result.

Trailing 1-0 heading into the top of the seventh inning, Jack Medic led off with an infield single, which was only the second hit Cabrera, a 5-foot-5 dynamo on the mound, gave up all game.

Dennis Medic, Jack’s younger brother, failed to advance the runner and after bunting foul twice, flied out to shallow right field.

Following a flyout by starting pitcher Mike Lenzo, who also was superb on the hill, the pressure was on Antonio Reyes. The No. 7 hitter came through with a single to right field, advancing Jack Medic to third and setting up the call of the year for Cardozo.

Douglas called time and spoke with both of his runners. John Marcus Zengotita took the first pitch and after the second, Reyes was off for second.

But then he stopped, three quarters of the way down to second. He stood and waited, trying to bait a throw from Adams catcher Luis Gonzalez. After faking to third, Gonzalez bit.

He threw the ball to shortstop Jose Soriano, who began to run Reyes back to first. Medic broke for home and scored the tying run while Reyes scampered into second after second baseman Xavier Carpio dropped the ball.

It was the second time Cardozo (22-5, 17-1 Queens East A) attempted the play. The first time, a day earlier against Bushwick, it didn’t work.

“I just stayed there thinking, ‘throw it, c’mon,’ ” Reyes said. “I was just waiting for it.”

“If he throws down or if he doesn’t throw down, stand there and force the play,” Douglas told Reyes. “He stood there and Jack Medic, who has great baseball instinct and knows exactly when the opportunity is, went for it.”

For John Adams (29-7-2, 16-2-1 Queens West A), it was one of the few mistakes in an extremely well-played game.

“It’s a simple play that the second baseman has to execute,” Adams coach Glenn Beyer said. “It was a perfect play, just not perfectly executed. We literally had the guy and we hesitated.”

Constantinos Venetis led off the eighth inning with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Bernie Estevez. Then Veissy, who broke up Cabrera’s no-hitter with a single to left center in the sixth, ripped a single to right center, scoring Venetis to put Cardozo in front, 2-1.

“It was a fastball over the plate and I just tried to go the other way,” Veissy said. “We play with a lot of heart and we play until the end.”

Danny Rosenbluth, who originally was going to be the starter but was pushed up a day because of a rainout earlier in the week, relieved Lenzo and pitched a perfect bottom of the eighth to get the save.

“I told [Douglas] I wanted the ball even though I pitched on Tuesday, but he didn’t want to take any chances with my arm,” said Rosenbluth, whose fastball was clocked at 87 mph. “I’ll get the ball the first game of the playoffs.”

Although overshadowed by Cabrera’s bid for a no-hitter, Lenzo was brilliant on the mound. The junior lefty gave up one run on four hits, including Johnny Lluberes’ RBI-ground ruled double to right in the third inning that put the Spartans in front 1-0. Lenzo, who struck out six, shook off early inning jitters and picked up steam in the later innings, retiring the final 10 batters he faced.

“I definitely get stronger as the game goes on,” Lenzo said. “I could’ve pitched the ninth inning, but it would have been their fourth time seeing me so I gave it to the No. 1 pitcher to close it out.”

Bayside 8, Francis Lewis 4. Danny Kapica allowed four hits and no earned runs and Anthony McCardy delivered the big hit, a three-run double in the second, as Bayside (9-10 Queens East A) clinched the final playoff berth in the division. Neil Bisman drove in two runs and Kyle Jamison was 2-for-4 with one run for Francis Lewis (9-10 Queens East A).

Townsend Harris 6, Robert F. Kennedy 5. Erkhan Murad, who was 2-for-4 with three RBIs, tied the game with a sacrifice fly and Peter Duffy drove in the winning run in the seventh inning for Townsend Harris (11-4 Queens Central B). Johnny Acosta was 2-for-4 with one run and Craig Weissberg was 2-for-3 with one RBI for RFK (6-10 Queens Central B).

Newtown 5, Edison 2. Julio Vargas broke a 2-2 tie with an RBI-single in the top of the seventh and Edwin Tolentino allowed four hits, no earned runs and struck out 14 for Newtown (7-11 Queens West A). Edison is 4-14 in Queens East A.

Forest Hills 12, Hillcrest 2. Frank Russo fanned nine, Edgar Morales belted a home run and drove in two runs and Adam Smilowitz was 3-for-4 with two RBIs for Forest Hills (11-5 Queens North B). Hillcrest is 8-8 in Queens South B.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.

Posted 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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