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Lehman ousts Adams in PSAL baseball semis

Strong pitching and solid defense. They have been the staples of the John Adams baseball program for as long as head coach Glenn Beyer can remember.

But in game two of the Spartans’ best-of-three PSAL ‘A’ semifinal series against Lehman Saturday, those two attributes were sorely lacking as the top-seeded Lions swept Adams with an 8-6 victory at The Ballpark at St. John’s.

Lehman, who also routed Adams, 12-3 in Friday’s semifinal opener, will face Monroe in the city championship game Friday at 7 p.m. at Shea Stadium.

Pitchers Mark Rios and Carlos Guzman combined for 11 walks and three hit batsmen. That’s 14 free bases against a potent Lehman lineup that scored eight runs on just five hits.

“I don’t know if it was nervousness, but the reality is we gave up cheap runs,” Beyer said. “We put the leadoff batter on in five of the seven innings. When you walk guys and put the leadoff guys on, there is no margin of error.”

Heading into the semifinal series, No. 5 John Adams (33-9-2) gave up just two runs in 23 innings of playoff baseball. But that pitching was nowhere to be found against Lehman.

The Lions broke a 3-3 tie with three runs in the top of the fourth inning. Isidro Fortuna’s two-run single to left field was the only hit in the inning as Rios walked four and hit Roberto Rivera in the stanza.

“Maybe it was a little nervousness,” Rios said. “Just to get to Shea Stadium…I think everyone was over excited.”

While Lehman (34-5) benefited from a plethora of free bases, John Adams scored their runs by pounding the ball off Lions pitchers Akeen Watson and Bryan Beniquez.

The Spartans answered back with three runs of their own in the bottom of the fourth, highlighted by a Johnny Lluberes RBI-double and a sacrifice fly by Jose Soriano (2-for-2, three RBIs).

Three more walks in the fifth inning resulted in what proved to be Lehman’s game-winning run as Paul Art reached first on a walk and advanced to second on another free pass. Gilberto Ortiz came in to pinch-run and reached third and scored on a pair of wild pitches.

After Lehman went ahead 8-6 in the top of the seventh on another wild pitch, Lions reliever Argelias Rosario came in to pitch a perfect bottom of the seventh to end the game. It was the only time in the sloppy game the side was retired in order.

“High school baseball is a very strange thing, there’s always going to be inconsistency and you have to learn to live with that as a coach,” said Lehman coach Jim Cunningham. “How they react on the field is not always what you like, but they kept coming back and we stole a few runs.”

Lehman 12, John Adams 3. Lions senior designated hitter Manny Quintana said it is important for his team to jump ahead early because the other team usually folds not too soon after.

That certainly was the case in the opening game of the PSAL ‘A’ semifinal series Friday as Lehman scored five runs in the first inning and led 8-0 after three in a 12-3 rout at The Ballpark at St. John’s.

Quintana was the offensive hero for Lehman, going 3-for-3 with five RBIs and a pair of doubles. His big shot was a 350-foot three-run blast over the left center field wall in the third inning to give the Lions an eight-run cushion.

“We bang the ball right away,” Quintana said. “From the start to the end.”

While Lehman tattooed Adams starter Xavier Carpio to the tune of eight runs on five hits while walking three and hitting a batter in 2.2 innings, Lehman pitcher Jared Gowers had little trouble on the mound. He struck out three and allowed two earned runs on six hits in the complete game victory.

The only minor difficulty he had was in the fourth inning when Alex Cordero blasted a two-run home run over the wall in left field to break up his shutout bid. But Lehman answered back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning off reliever Kelvin Nunez to regain the eight-run lead.

“We could have stopped the bleeding with two runs,” Beyer said of the damaging first inning in which Lehman batted around. “We gave them a fourth out and they capitalized.”

Beacon 9, Flushing 8. It appeared that Jose Diaz had done it. It looked like he had just hit the game-tying home run with two outs in the seventh inning Monday at St. John’s.

But Beacon left fielder Juan Garcia twisted and turned and caught the final out to send the Blue Demons to the PSAL ‘B’ championship game. No. 9 Beacon, which scored five runs in the opening two innings on five Flushing errors, takes on third-seeded South Bronx Friday at 4 p.m. at Shea Stadium. The Red Devils, who lost to Chelsea in last year’s B title game, finishes at 18-3.

Flushing 9, Morris 1. Diaz struck out 12 in a two-hitter Friday at Franklin K. Lane as No. 5 Flushing cruised into the semifinals. Leonel Palanco’s pinch-hit two-run double with the bases loaded put the Red Devils in front 2-1 in a four-run fifth inning.

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

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