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Newtown sinks Bayside in interleague play

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Newtown senior Tommy Mejia knew he didn’t have his best stuff on Friday. But he also realized he had a familiar catcher in Delvy Fernandez and a group of encouraging teammates behind him, and they constantly propped him by surrounding him on the mound whenever he found himself in a jam.

“I stress a family structure out there,” Newtown’s coach Neil Rosenblatt said. “We have four seniors and the rest are underclassmen, and we’re all there for each other.”

Newtown (7-5, Queens A West) scored four runs in the third inning, and Mejia gave up just two extra base hits in six innings and struck out seven to sink Bayside, 8-2, at the Commodores’ home field.

Mejia, an emotional player who threw five wild pitches, three in the third inning and more than 100 pitches in all, breathed a sigh of relief after reliever Angel Seda struck out the final batter.

“I know that I didn’t come out with my best stuff, but I left my heart out there on the field,” said the Bushwick resident who was raised in Corona. “I got tired around the fifth inning and I started to lose a little focus out there. I was trying so hard. I came back to the dugout and said to myself that I had to get these next batters out. I rededicated myself.”

Shut out from the playoffs the last two years, the Pioneers played with an urgency that was visible on the base paths. Shortstop Yordis Veras reached base on an error, subsequently stole second and third and scored when Bayside’s catcher carelessly threw the ball over the head of the freshmen pitcher, Eric Strauss (0-1), to take a 1-0 lead in the first inning.

Veras struck again in the third, singling past the shortstop and stealing second and reaching third when the catcher’s throw drifted over the second baseman’s head and later scoring on a balk to go up, 2-0.

Mejia (1-2, 3 saves) batted next and tripled to deep right, and Godwin Almonte, pinch-running for Mejia, scored on Steven Rodriguez’s center field double to make it 3-0. Rodriguez stole third and Javier Duran walked next, setting up Delvy Fernandez, who broke out of a mid-season slump by hitting a fastball to deep center field to score both players to go up 5-0.

Bayside’s senior centerfielder, Daniel Kapica, who deprived Newtown of two extra-base hits in the second inning with leaping catches, threw out Fernandez, a teammate of Mejia’s on the Flushing Blue Jays, trying to score.

Bayside coach Pat Torney was unhappy with Friday’s result but is pleased with the team’s overall play this season. The Commodores (11-6, 6-2, Queens East A) miss the senior leadership of top pitcher Alfredo Nunez, who couldn’t play this season because he had to work, and Koby Anor, the team’s starting catcher, and are using 12 freshmen and sophomores to fill the void. Bayside finished a game out of the playoffs last season.

“When those two guys left, I thought we were going to be in a ‘Bad News Bears’ situation,” Torney said. “We’re not big physically, but we do have skills. If someone had told me before the season that we’d be 6-2 in the division, I wouldn’t have believed them. But we’re trying to make the playoffs, and the magic number for us is eight (victories).”

Reach reporter Mitch Abramson by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.

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