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John Adams bests Richmond Hill in playoff clash

The John Adams baseball team is peaking at just the right moment. With city juggernaut Monroe looming as a possible ‘A’ quarterfinal opponent, the Spartans overwhelmed Richmond Hill 5-1 at home Saturday in a second round PSAL playoff game that was rescheduled because of Friday’s rain.

The date with top seeded Monroe will measure how far No. 9 John Adams has come since starting the season 4-4. At one point in April, Adams lost three league games in a week. Coach Glenn Beyer had to wrack his brain to recall the last time his team nose-dived in league play.

“Four weeks ago there was a lot of despair and anger on this team,” said Beyer, in his 12th year at the helm. “The kids were devastated because of the standards that people hold John Adams too. The alumni was coming to practice all the time; the kids were scared they weren’t going to make the playoffs.”

The alumni might have had a role in the turnaround. Against No. 25 Richmond Hill, Beyer started a sophomore who never pitched in a playoff game before. Jesse Cardenas responded by striking out seven batters and holding Richmond Hill (17-8) to four hits and one unearned run. The win was Adams’ tenth in a row.

If Adams perked up during the season, then so did Cardenas. The resident of Jamaica shook off early control problems by listening to alumni like Kenny Duverge, an All-City pitcher onAdams’ 1999 City Championship team, who worked with Cardenas on his form and approach to the game.

“When we had practice he would come down and help me with my mechanics,” Cardenas said. “He would work with me on my curve ball because I used to bewild.”

Cardenas still has trouble harnessing his pitches- he hit Richmond Hill’s Chris Esposito in the head inthe fourth inning and walked Robert Mendez on five pitches to put the tying runat the plate. But Cardenas (3-1) struck out Aaron Seligson with an off-speed pitch and caused Benjamin Riofrio, brother of starting pitcher, Ted, to groundout. The only run Adams (25-10) allowed was on a failed double play attempt to third base as the ball rolled into foul territory and scored Chris Vega.

“I wanted to go the distance,” Cardenas said. “I had them guessing at my pitches the whole game.”

Carlos Guzman, one of the city’s top players and a potential major league draft pick on June 7, went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a pair of RBIs. The senior stopped crowding the plate in the first inning and hit a bloop double to left field in the second that scored Gabriel Acosta to go up 3-0. The resident of Bushwick later smashed a 2-0 inside fastball into deep centerfield in the sixth, scoring Nelson Cruz to take a 5-1 lead.

Richmond Hill caoch Greg Reo is credited with changing the Lions from a doormat to a playoff contender in four years as manager. On Saturday, Reo made another move that should pay off: he rested ace pitcher Chris Esposito, the hero of Wednesday’s 3-2 first round win over DeWitt Clinton, because he didn’t want to hurt the senior’s arm before he goes college. Richmond Hill starts four freshmen and returns 16 players next year.

Townsend Harris 23, LabMuseum 4. Maurice Stevenson went 4-for-4 with six RBIs for Townsend Harris (15-1) in a first round ‘B’ playoff game Kissena Field last Thursday.

Martin Van Buren 4, Harry Van Arsdale 2. Craig Lalla struck out eight in six innings for Van Buren (14-2 Queens South B) in a first round ‘B’ playoff game last Thursday at Prellar Field.

William C. Bryant 8, Thomas Jefferson 1. James Aspenleiter struck out 13 without giving up an earned run in a complete game win for Bryant (11-5 Queens North B) in a first round ‘B’ playoff game at St. Michaels last Thursday.

John Adams 6, Abraham Lincoln 1. Daniel Cabrera struck out nine and allowed three hits and one earned run for Adams at home in a first round ‘A’ playoff game last Thursday.

James Madison 5, Newtown 1. The Knights defeated the Pioneers at home in a first round ‘A’ playoff game last Thursday.

Franklin K. Lane 5, Queens Vocational Tec. 4. Chris Caamano struck out six and also went 3-for-5 with a run scored for Lane (12-4 Queens Central B) in a first round ‘B’ playoff game at home last Thursday.

Beach Channel 15, South Shore 7. Charles Novak went 2-for-5 with three RBIs for Beach Channel (12-4 Queens South B) in a first round ‘B’ playoff game last Thursday at South Shore.

Thomas Edison 13, Benjamin Banneker 3. Edison (8-8 Queens North B) scored five runs in the second inning in a first round ‘B’ playoff game last Thursday.

Christopher Columbus 8, Long Island City 5. The Explorers defeated the Bulldogs at Taft HS in a first round ‘A’ playoff game last Thursday.

Port Richmond 5, Benjamin Cardozo 3. Miguel Sosa went 2-for-4 with a homerun for Port Richmond (11-7 Staten Island A) in a first round ‘A’ playoff game at Cardozo last Thursday.

Reach reporter Mitch Abramsonby E-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com orcall 718-229-0300 Ext. 130.

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