Metro Cadets salvage split with Collegiates

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While Mike Cuomo hasn’t usually been the first manager in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League to crack a smile this summer, the Metro Cadets’ skipper may have been able to force a grin after his team’s play in a weekend split with the Long Island Collegiates at St. John’s this past Saturday.

After mounting a 2-0 lead in the opener with Charlie Bilezikjian and Eddie Kull crossing the plate, the proverbial dam broke on the Cadets, as the Collegiates collected 12 late-inning runs on a slew of singles and one towering three-run home run deposited over the left field fence by Long Island centerfielder Lee Lipshutz. It was a demoralizing blow that essentially put the game out of reach, the Collegiates winning by a 15-8 count.

In the second game, the Cadets got an early lift from second baseman Jimmy McCurdy, who parlayed a walk and a stolen base into a first-inning run. Third baseman Tirzon Nunez would single and later cross the plate in the second, upping the advantage to 2-0.

Fordham left-hander Anthony Paolillo baffled the Collegiates with his breaking pitches and precision, and the Cadets’ offense tacked on a third run in the fourth, as Nunez doubled into the right-center field gap and came around to score on an error by shortstop Jelani Arnold off a ground ball hit by St. John’s Jason Fischette.

Paolillo stymied the Collegiates through four, but surrendered consecutive singles to former Cardozo standout Steven Duke, Arnold and Lipshutz to load the bases in the bottom of the fifth, then walked Jon Volosin on four pitches, forcing in Duke, as the Collegiates closed the gap to 3-1. John Maloney followed with a two-run double over Bilezjikkian’s head in center to tie the game at three, but Paolillo settled down, retiring Bob Ziolkowski and Mike Hirschfield on a grounder to third and fly-out to center, as the Collegiates stranded runners on second and third.

In what would prove to be the game’s most crucial at-bat, leftfielder Ryan Galligan drew a walk to lead-off the sixth, advancing to third on a single by Nunez down the left field line. Fischette followed by serving a single into right field, scoring Galligan with the go-ahead run and putting the Cadets ahead to stay, 4-3. They would tack on another run in the seventh, as Bilezikjian would draw a walk and ultimately come around to score on a ball hit by Merkle that glanced off Arnold’s glove.

Bilezikjian came on to pitch a flawless seventh, earning the save in a 5-3 victory.

As his team struggled through a dismal 3-14 start, Cuomo saw his team suffer through an anemic offensive stretch and more recently saw his crew plagued by pitching woes, in large part because of injuries. With his team claiming two of their last three games, the coach was afforded a little bit of breathing room heading into the ACBL all-star break.

“It’s been a tough season, going from 30 wins to 4-15 this year,” said Cuomo. “It’s a terrible thing. It’s been the hitting [that’s been a problem], and now we’re down to five pitchers.”

Second baseman Jimmy McCurdy was encouraged by what he interpreted as signs of life during the team’s split.

“We’ve been playing .500 baseball up until now, and now we’re starting to hit the ball,” said McCurdy. “We’re starting to come around.”

Catcher Eddie Kull was happy the team could salvage the second game after the opener got out of hand.

“A split isn’t bad,” said Kull. “I’ll take a ‘W’ when I can get it. The first game really got out of control. It was out of our hands.”

“Anytime we’re in the game, I’m happy,” said Cuomo. “There have been a lot of injuries this year. It’s been a tough season.”

The Cadets(4-15) had four representatives in Monday’s ACBL all-star game at Shea Stadium, as the Kaiser Division claimed a 5-2 victory. Queens College right-handed pitcher Keith Haack threw a scoreless second inning out of the bullpen, while starting catcher Kull logged a 1-for-2 day at the plate. Another starter, Tom Merkle, made some sparkling defensive plays at first base, while Bilezikjian played the second half of the contest in the outfield.

The Cadets take on the Long Island Collegians Thursday night at Mitchel Field in Uniondale at 5:30 p.m.

Reach Contributing Writer Brian Towey by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.

Posted 7:15 pm, October 10, 2011
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