Monroe’s Jeffrey Hostos waited for the sign and delivered the pitch; a stinging curve ball that had Gompers’ Victor Ruiz swinging at air, capping off an amazing come-from-behind 4-2 victory that landed Eagle coach Mike Turo in the record books with his 900th career victory.
“It’s been a lot of years and a lot of hard work,” said Turo after an on-field celebration at St. Mary’s Park on Friday, April 18. “But we have a great program here. These kids have really responded well and I owe it all to them,” he continued.
You’d have to go back 31 years – 1977 to be exact – to when Turo, a Bronx native, first took over the Monroe program from dear family friend Joe Consagra, and won his first game.
Ever since, Turo has led Monroe to 22 straight PSAL playoff appearances, reaching the tournament in 27 of 30 seasons and winning five City Championships in 1993, 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006. Turo has won the Bronx in six straight seasons and only recently saw a 75-game division winning streak snapped in an exciting 4-1 loss to Evander Childs two weeks ago.
But the most important accomplishment to Turo is another number – over 200 kids who have received scholarships to play baseball in college. That’s better than 900 wins any day, according to a proud Monroe coach.
“It’s nice,” Turo said, “but I care more about whether or not the kids play well and if I can get them into college and drafted.
His players were truly tested, as the Panthers tried to spoil the party, sending in hard throwing Dominique Parra against Monroe. Parra is considered to be among the best in the City.
“They had a tough pitcher out there and the ump was calling strikes in a bad location,” noted senior captain Juan Arroyo, who was on hand for Turo’s 800th win several years ago. “When you have a combination like that, it just makes it harder.”
Monroe’s hitters seemed to struggle, but coach Turo remained confident in the midst of Parra’s pitching dominance.
Parra would throw 37 pitches in the 1st inning and had a high-pitch count as the game wore on. His fielders were not helping.
Taking advantage of an error by the centerfielder, the Eagles’ Melvin Garcia reached 3rd base, scoring Monroe’s first run on a force out in the top of the 3rd inning.
Meanwhile, Hostos was holding Monroe down on the mound, striking out 9 in 6 innings of relief. Nolan Herrera was taken out after the 1st inning, having allowed 2 runs in his first stint since suffering a knee injury. “His fast ball was flat and his curve just wasn’t biting,” said Turo. “We went to Jeffrey, who has pitched a lot of good games for us over the years.”
Hostos proved his worth in the 6th inning, with a runner at 3rd and no one out, getting Juan Hilario to ground out and striking out Robert Checo and Jonathan Santana to end the threat.
By this point, Monroe had already fought back successfully, tying the game in the 5th inning when a Nelson Arroyo grounder into right field was mishandled, allowing Resto Cruz to score.
Monroe took advantage of Parra’s departure and in the 6th inning, Garcia hit a ball to right field that could not be handled, allowing one run to score. It would prove to be the game winner.
“This win feels wonderful,” said Henry Cartagena, who would score an insurance run in the 7th inning on a sacrifice fly from Elias Todman. “Coach Turo has given so much to this team. He earned this. I’m just happy I could be a part of it.”
©2008 Community News Group