Bronx upsets change baseball playoff landscape

Coach Mike Turo confronts a disappointed Monroe team after a lackluster 2-1 victory over Long Island City. - Photo by Walter Pofeldt

There will indeed be a brand new champion at this year’s PSAL baseball playoff finals on Friday, June 6, at Shea Stadium, as two perennial favorites were ousted in only the second round. 

Perhaps the biggest upset occurred when Clinton High School avenged last year’s semifinal loss to the 2007 champions from Tottenville in a thrilling 10-8 extra winning victory. 

“This team just never gives up,” coach Robert Miller, of the Clinton Governors, stated after the game.

This was evident as Clinton came back from 7-2 and 8-5 deficits to force an 8th inning. 

The momentum shifted in Clinton’s favor, as Wagas Ali, pitching in relief, overcame a rally, striking out Mike Giuffre and P.J. Sirico and forcing Greg Tauriello to fly out to center field with runners on the corners.

In the bottom of the 8th inning, Shaniel Rivera and Melvin Mercedes led off with hits and scored on singles from Paul Rodriguez and Mauricio Matos to put Clinton ahead for good, 10-8, to move on to the 3rd round of playoff action against The High School of Telecommunication Arts & Technology. 

In other action, as first predicted in Knowing the Score last week, Gompers pitching got the better of Monroe, ending the Eagles’ stranglehold of the championship in a 3-1 upset. 

Monroe has either won the championship or been in the finals over the last few years and was expected to continue its even-number title win (2000, 2002, 2004, 2006) this season. 

However, the Eagles saw problems early on in the first round, just edging out Long Island City, 2-1, to advance in the playoffs. 

The hitting drought continued, as Gompers’ Juan Hilario allowed just one run in the early goings of the game, before dominating from the mound with 10 strikeouts over 7 innings of play.  Hilario only allowed three hits in a winning effort. 

But hitting was not Gompers’ strong suit either.  Only Robert Checo (2-for-3) seemed to have Monroe’s number.  The Eagles’ Jeffrey Hostos also pitched well, allowing only 1 run over 4 innings, before Juan Arroyo stepped in for relief. 

Fielding did Monroe in, as an error in the 6th inning, provided Gompers with the 2 runs necessary for the victory to advance against the highly favored Norman Thomas.   

In other action, Kennedy was also eliminated, losing to Susan Wagner High School, 6-3, on May 23.  Willy Castillo (5 IP, 3 H, 6 R, 6 K’s) picked up the loss. 

The top B Division schools from the Bronx advanced in the playoffs, with Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy (13) advancing against MLK thanks to strong pitching from Justin Santiago (7 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 11 K’s), who also went 2-for-4, scoring twice and driving in one run.  Yahnny Arias (2-for-3, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 2B) also provided offense in the victory that puts Riverdale into the 2nd round against Bushwick.

Also, Jane Addams (2) beat Frank Sinatra 5-1 to advance into the second round where they will meet Gregorio Luperon High School at Crotona Park this week, and Morris beat Automotive 11-1 to move on against Queens Vocational in round 2. 

Finally, Truman High School (11) advanced with a strong 3-1 victory over Lad Museum in Co-op City on May 23, thanks to a 2 RBI single by Jimmy Rodriguez in the 6th inning.  Jonathan Colon (6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 9 K’s) picked up the win.  Lee Sosa struck out 3 in an inning’s worth of work to pick up the save.  Truman will face Hillcrest High School in the 2nd round.

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