The American League, led by skipper Joe Kessler of the Bayside Yankees, beat Fernandez and the National League, 9-2.
"It's been a long season," said Fernandez, a resident of Corona. "It seemed like every time someone made an error, the team (Blue Jays) would get down and give up. We lost a lot of games by double digit (margins). All you can do is play hard and never give up."
The team won just three games all season, with Fernandez starring in two of them. He came in as a reliever to save the first game, and struck out ten batters in a complete-game win in the second. On Monday Fernandez played catcher for two innings and walked and scored a run on a wild pitch to tie the game at 2.
Against the Long Island Bulls early in the season, Fernandez's hustle and dexterity behind the plate caught the attention of Bulls head coach Vinny Punzone, a former shortstop with the Anaheim Angels Triple-A club, who was released in 1991 even though he hit .371 with 26 homers and 96 stolen bases the year before.
Punzone liked Fernandez's moxy and enlisted him to play with the Bulls in the Delaware Beach Explosion tournament last July where Fernandez, free from the losing ways of the Blue Jays, helped the team win the consolation championships. Fernandez fit in immediately with the Bulls, bringing Mexican beans for his teammates to practice hitting with and winning the MVP of the Babe Ruth Tournament in Staten Island last weekend.
"Fernandez is a team leader who always gives 110 percent," said Punzone, who served as an assistant coach for the American League. "If he sticks with baseball he could go a long way, possibly to a Division I program. He has a great effect on his teammates and is really good behind the plate."
Fernandez made the play of the Babe Ruth tournament when he threw out a runner leading off third base during a suicide squeeze play. The out ended the inning and saved a run from scoring and allowed the Bulls to win the eliminator game to reach the finals.
Fernandez applies his know-how as a pitcher when he is working behind the plate at Newtown.
"I understand how to call a game," said Fernandez, who was born in the Dominican Republic and moved here when he was four to live with his mother. "I know what a pitcher should throw and when he should throw it. Sometimes, calling pitches can be a struggle if he is shaking off your signs, but you have to keep trying and work with him."
And that is something Fernandez has plenty of experience with.
Team New York Cardinals outfielder Matthew Pascarelli, who played against Fernandez while at Long Island City HS, went 2-for-3 for the American League with an RBI-single in the fourth inning to put his team ahead 2-1. For the resident of Astoria, the game was a continuation of his improved production at the plate this summer.
"I have definitely gotten better as a hitter from playing ball [for the Cardinals]," said Pascarelli, an honor student with a 93 classroom average. "I get more reps at the plate:three at-bats seven times a week. That allows you to get into a groove."
Pascarelli batted in the high.300's for the Cardinals. Compared to his .190 work-rate at Long Island City last year, Pascarelli is hoping that his improved batting average was more then just a summer fling.
Reach reporter Mitch Abramson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300 Ext. 130.
©2004 Community News Group
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