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Bayside’s bat men: Wood bats have had little effect on Commodores’ lineup

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The past few years Bayside HS has been known for its pitching. When you have Anthony Velazquez, who threw two straight perfect games as a junior and Eric Strauss, who tossed a no-hitter of his own last year, it's hard to be characterized for anything else.

But that dominant 1-2 punch has graduated and the switch to wood bats has watered down hitting all across New York City. So, how are the Commodores scoring over 10 runs per game? It's all about approach.

"You would think it's Murderer's Row out there," coach Pat Torney said. "We were talking about playing some small ball early, but that hasn't really come into play."

Actually, Bayside is more Killing Them Softly than Murderer's Row. The potent lineup which features seniors Jorge Ynoa, Tony Koulotouros, Mike Fermin and Kevin Brown in the middle has been content to spray line drives all over the field and take walks. The more you put the ball in play, the bigger chance the opposing team's defense will make a mistake, Torney says.

Ynoa is getting on base at a .581 clip, Koulotouros has a .586 on-base percentage, Brown is batting .370 and Fermin is slugging .526.

Those four players combined have only nine strikeouts. Ynoa hasn't struck out once.

"It isn't just the Big Four, either," Torney said.

No, juniors Carey Morales and Jonathan D'Angelo are two more cogs in the deepest lineup in Queens. Commodores hitters go to The Cage, a batting cage facility in Middle Village, every Friday. What they've worked on most with hitting coach Tony Olivo this year is "adjusting to the pitcher," according to Ynoa. Wood bats, unlike their metal counterparts, don't give the batter the advantage.

"You find out who the real hitters are," Ynoa said.

Evidently, Bayside has plenty of those. The Commodores went into spring break with a 9-0 record, good enough for first place in Queens East A. Hitting has clearly been the biggest reason why, though Koulotouros says the team's pitching is "underrated."

It's certainly easy to look good as a pitcher when there is no weakness in your team's lineup.

"We have so many guys who can (hit)," Koulotouros said. "We never take our foot off the pedal."

The fast start has Bayside with high hopes. The Commodores have yet to play the two teams directly behind them in the standings, though. They play third-place Cardozo May 6 and 8 and second-place Francis Lewis May 12 and 14. Bayside won the division last year and is coming off two straight PSAL Class A quarterfinals appearances after not making it that far since 1989.

The Commodores equally confident this time around.

"We're probably," Ynoa said, "gonna take (the division) this year."

Reach Associate Sports Editor Marc Raimondi by e-mail at mraimondi@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.

Updated 6:57 pm, October 10, 2011
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