Gritty Vasquez pitches Monroe past Manhatten Center

Inconsistency in control took away from the aesthetics of Jose Vasquez’s performance – not its effectiveness. The senior worked around the occasional walk to toss five, one-hit innings for James Monroe.

The senior led the Eagles to the seventh win in their currently perfect young league season as they defeated Manhattan Center 8-0 in PSAL AAA Northern Division baseball at Field of Dreams April 15.

Vasquez could not be touched. He controlled the game in every sense with his ferocious fastball; the problem was his control. When he did get it over the plate, he fanned nine swing and froze two for 11 strikeouts. However, he occasionally struggled to keep the ball down, walking five batters as well, the only reason the Rams ever had a chance to score with him on the mound.

“This is the first time that he didn’t have great control,” said Eagles coach Michael Turo. “He usually keeps it low and then climbs the ladder, but today he was starting high and coming down. He bounced back and threw some strikes when we needed it. I give him credit because he hung in there.””

Despite the inconsistency in control, which Turo even saw before the game as Vasquez warmed up, the senior still dominated. Vasquez, who didn’t notice the one-hitter until after he was pulled, would allow just one hit, to opposing pitcher Albert Rodriguez.

“My arm always felt great,” Vasquez said. “I was just squeezing the baseball too hard because I was getting a bit anxious. That’s why I kept walking hitters.”

A perfect frame in the second inning, striking out the side, looked like he was finding his groove. However, the third inning would be the second time he walked two batters. Due to the walks and the fact that hitters couldn’t put the ball in play when it was over the plate, Vasquez’s pitch count increased fairly quickly.

“I just try to make him laugh,” said senior Jeremia Bueno, Monroe’s catcher. “That way he will relax and he won’t think about the pitch count or anyone on base. He believes in his pitches and that his teammates have his back.”

The Eagles offense ignited in the top half of the fourth, putting up a five-run rally with two outs as the entire batting order came up to the plate. Leadoff hitter Jason Ramos went 4-for-5 with two runs scored, and the rest followed suit. Miguelange Toribio would push in two runs with a two-out double to start the rally.

The Eagles streaky hitting, combined with their solid pitching, has been the key to their perfect start to the league season. The Monroe pitching staff has yet to allow more than two runs in a game and the offense doesn’t seem capable of staying under five runs—a deadly combination.

“This is the type of team that when one guy hits,” Turo said. “it gets contagious and they all get confident and they all want to bat.”

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