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In battle of Bayside, Cardozo reigns supreme with sweep

Steven Joy tossed his glove to the dugout, pumped his fist and was mobbed by the entire Cardozo baseball team. The senior southpaw had just completed a complete-game, two-hit shutout by getting Aaron Shapiro to ground out to shortstop Matthew Lynn. Senior catcher Jamal Vargas gave Joy a Gatorade bath and later danced in the middle of a circle, a traditional celebration.

“This was the most important game of the year,” said Joy, explaining the revelry.

The 7-0 win at Bayside completed a two-game sweep of the rival Commodores for Cardozo. It also signified a change of the guard, that, after a few down years, the Judges, who had won their division 19 of the previous 22 seasons, are back. They are atop Queens A East and are a team that can possibly go far in the citywide playoffs under first-year Coach Ron Gorecki.

“We’re trying,” Joy said, “to bring back [the tradition].”

Explained Vargas: “We want to make a statement that we’re the best team in Queens.”

They are certainly in the conversation, with William Bryant, Newtown, John Adams and Francis Lewis. On Thursday, Joy limited Bayside to just a pair of singles, struck out nine and walked just one. He kept the Commodores off balance all afternoon, mixing up his sinking fastball, curve and change-up to both sides of the play.

“He was the difference,” Bayside Coach Pat Torney said. “I tip my hat to Joy.”

Cardozo (8-0, Queens A East) scored its first run, in the third inning, when Bayside center fielder Daniel Chieffo dropped George Theodoropoulos’ fly ball. In the sixth, the Judges broke the game open, plating four runs on three hits. Vargas got the ball rolling by executing a suicide squeeze to score Alex Reinharz. Andrew Nunez followed by stroking a two-strike, off-speed delivery into center field and Theodoropoulos added a run-scoring double. They added two more runs in the seventh, on sacrifice flies by Derek Errigo and Lynn.

“We’re all confident, we’re all saying we’re going to go 16-0,” Lynn said. “None of us would be surprised if we did. We don’t feel anybody can beat us.”

It was a discouraging week in what has been an encouraging season for the Commodores. Bayside (5-3) has owned Queens the last three years, winning Queens A East once and making the PSAL Class A quarterfinals twice, the only school from the borough to do so in that time.

The players — pitchers Eric Strauss and Anthony Velazquez and position players Jorge Ynoa, Michael Fermin, Tony Koulotouros and Kevin Brown — who built those successful teams, however, graduated. The current crop is new. The seniors who do start — such as Michael Halkiadakis and Joseph Delgado — don’t have much experience.

“Every day is a learning experience,” Torney said. “It’s a rebuilding season. I don’t think anybody gave us much of a chance this year. We’re ahead of where I expected us to be. We’ve made some people look up and take notice.”

Bayside is still in control of its own destiny. The Commodores are 5-3, a game and a half behind second-place Francis Lewis, and two games in the loss column ahead of fourth-place Forest Hills. The top three teams make the citywide playoffs.

Torney has seen improvement. Bayside has split with Francis Lewis and beat Queens A West power William Bryant. The defeats to Cardozo — Bayside lost 5-4 Tuesday afternoon — were both tight games that could’ve gone either way, setbacks that should help in the coming weeks.

“We’ve showed we can play with the big boys,” Torney said.

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