Nine leaves an imprint

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Jimmy Bermudez has shed tears on a baseball diamond twice – after losing the PSAL Class B championship his junior year and when his New York Nine career ended late Saturday night in Jackson, Miss. The scout team had just finished third in the National Amateur Baseball Federation 18U World Series, an invite and qualifier-only tournament composed of the best travel programs nationwide.

The Jane Addams product and emotional Bronx native made it clear where the two breakdowns stood.

“It hurts more leaving this team than losing the city championship,” the Odessa (Texas) College-bound right-hander said. “They got me a lot of looks from pro scouts; I got a scholarship now. If I was to play with another team, I don’t think I would get the same looks.”

Since establishing the program in 2006, Ian Millman has lured prospects far and near, as much for his baseball acumen and endless Rolodex of college and pro contacts as his no-nonsense, my-way-or-the-highway approach.

The organization, which produced the city’s only high-school draft picks in George Washington first baseman Alibay Barkley and Norman Thomas right-hander Mariel Checo, has four teams, mixed between city and Westchester talent. The scout team included several members of Mamaroneck HS, the back-to-back state champs, such as Sean Hagan (St. John’s) and Matt McGovern (Boston College).

The Nine were the only team to go undefeated in pool play, but were eliminated in the national semifinals by the Maryland Monarchs.

Bobea got the Nine off to a rousing start, tossing a complete-game, one-hit, 10-strikeout gem in a 7-1 victory over St. Mary’s Baseball of Maryland. The Nine beat Ohio Thunder, 5-0, topped the Mississippi Golden Spikes, 6-0, and edged the Jackson 96ers White, 2-1, to end round-robin play. In the quarterfinals, they routed Troy Baseball of Ohio, 17-3.

Millman extolled the play of several city players. Included were second baseman Henry Cartagena of Monroe, outfielder Jorge Ynoa of Caldwell College and Bayside, utility man Alex German of Jane Addams, Bermudez, the team’s closer, and former Cardozo catcher Jamal Vargas. LeMoyne College star Joe Lombardi was the tournament’s batting champ with a .455 average.

In the semifinal loss, Manhattan College-bound pitcher Eric Luksis was racked around for four first-inning runs before Fordham Prep and Bryant–bound Sal Lisanti came in throwing darts in relief. With him on the mound, the Nine fought back, getting even at four, before falling short.

Millman took the setback hard, if only because it would’ve have been yet another monumental step towards increasing the Nine’s reputation. But, he said he can rest easy, knowing the each of the players that move on will be playing college baseball.

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CNG: Community Newspaper Group