Steve Rodriguez didnt care how hard he hit the ball or how sweet his swing looked. The sophomore third baseman on the Newtown baseball team just wanted to get the ball out of the infield.
And with runners at first and second in the bottom of the fifth inning with the score tied at 3, Rodriguez did just that barely. His bloop single into short right field scored Miguel Maria, who pitched a gem for the Pioneers, as Newtown defeated Queens West A rival Grover Cleveland, 4-3.
Two innings earlier, Rodriguez was struck out by Cleveland ace Ricky Perez.
He caught me with a curve ball down low, Rodriguez said. Strikeouts are going to happen. The next time you get up, you just have to hit the ball. He jammed me a little, but I got it into the outfield.
As always seems to be the case when the league foes meet, the difference between Newtown and Grover Cleveland was miniscule at Newtown Athletic Field.
Perez pitched well for Cleveland (5-1, 0-1), scattering five hits while striking out 11 and walking four in five innings, but Maria was just a bit better. The Pioneers senior leader went the distance, giving up three runs on seven hits, striking out 10 with just one first-inning walk.
Despite tiring in the seventh inning, giving up a leadoff infield single to Eduardo Santiago and a well hit single to Perez to put the tying run on second, Maria bared down and got James DeBernardo to ground out to second baseman Tommy Mejia to end the game.
I was just trying to work on my location. I wasnt trying to overpower anyone, Maria said. I just tried to hit my spots.
Added Newtown coach Neil Rosenblatt: He came out and did the job. Hes a senior leader, and in the seventh he got a little tired but he showed a lot of heart, a lot of guts.
Both pitchers were sloppy early and Newtown (3-3, 1-0) led 3-2 after the first inning. But after that, both Maria and Perez, teammates on the Brooklyn Bonnies, a summer travel team, calmed down and the game turned into a pitchers duel.
Maria retired eight straight before Jesus Veras reached on a single to center field in the fourth inning. But Veras was then nailed trying to steal second by Pioneers catcher Miguel Reyes.
Maria was touched up a bit in the fifth when Bernard Ruiz reached on a one-out single to right field and Renato Fruggiero followed with a shot into the gap in left-center field.
But sophomore leftfielder Jeffrey Gomez raced for the ball and reached out to make the grab before colliding with centerfielder Jeffries Paulino, who attempted a sliding catch.
The catch proved huge as Perez followed with an RBI-double in the same gap one batter later, tying the game at 3.
I saw the ball, and at first I thought I wasnt going to get it, Gomez said. But I just decided to go and get it.
I dont know who gets the game ball, but if it were up to me, Id give it to [Gomez], said Grover Cleveland coach Jack Ciano.
Francis Lewis 5, Edison 3. Adlai Allen was 2-for-3 with a homer and Mike Guarnieri, who went 1-for-3 with two RBIs at the plate, gave up five hits and struck out five in five innings for Francis Lewis (5-1, 1-0 Queens East A). Miguel Espinal scored twice for Edison (0-1 Queens East A).
Richmond Hill 9, John Bowne 3. Anthony Villardi went the distance, scattering six hits while striking out six, and Chris Esposito went 3-for-4 with five RBIs for Richmond Hill (8-1, 1-0 Queens East A). John Bowne dropped to 0-2 in Queens East A.
Bayside 9, Van Buren 0. Senior Anthony McCarty tossed his first career no-hitter, fanning 13 while also going 2-for-4 with one RBI, and Justin Hutt was 3-for-4 with an RBI for Bayside (5-2, 2-0 Queens East A). Van Buren is 0-2 in Queens East A.
John Adams 3, Aviation 1. Xavier Carpio drove in Louie Gonzalez for the game-winning RBI in the fourth inning, and Carlos Guzman went 1-for-2 with one RBI, Jeffrey Batista was 2-for-4 and Johnny Lluberes allowed three hits and struck out six while walking one for Adams (13-0-2, 1-0 Queens West A). Jeffrey Hernandez went 1-for-3 with one RBI, and Ronny Vargas struck out 11 for Aviation (0-1 Queens West A).
Bushwick 6, Long Island City 4. Charles Lalane was 3-for-3 with one RBI and Richard Garcia went 1-for-3 with three RBIs for Bushwick (2-0 Queens West A), while Jason Lopez was 3-for-4 with three RBI for LIC (0-2 Queens West A).
Forest Hills 10, Bryant 5. Eric Meyers went 2-for-3 with four RBIs, while Adam Smilowitz (4-for-5, three runs scored) picked up the win for Forest Hills (6-3, 1-1 Queens North B), which used an eight-run fourth inning to rebound from a division-opening 2-1 loss to the Owls April 2.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by email at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.
©2003 Community News Group
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