There was a rough start to the season for the Lehman baseball team. It was the first time in five seasons the Lions had entered the prestigious Monroe Holiday Tournament. And several of them had set a preseason goal to win the tournament.
So when Tyler Gurman picked Andy Garcia’s throw in the dirt, completing catcher-turned-pitcher Randy Adames’ complete-game gem, Lehman’s sixth win in as many games the last five days, the Lions busted out of their dugout like it was a jailbreak. The entire team met on the mound as if they had synchronized the exact moment beforehand, celebrating the 6-1 win over Morris that clinched the Monroe tourney title.
“To go undefeated in this tournament,” coach Adam Droz said, “is a big deal.”
“It shows that we’re a force in the PSAL,” said junior right-hander Laurence Marsach, who pitched the Lions into the championship game, beating Bryant, 4-1, in the semifinals earlier in the day, 24 hours after he got a win with four shutout innings against John Adams.
After the early-season loss to John F. Kennedy March 31, Draz called out his team for lackadaisical play. They beat themselves that day, committing errors and leaving a small island on the bases.
“We used that loss to build momentum,” Adames said.
At the time, Droz said he needed contributions from more than just Marsach, his ace, and first baseman Tyler Gurman, his power-hitting sophomore. In these five games, Garcia broke out of his early-season slump in a big way. He drove in the first run of the championship game with a well-struck single to center field and had 12 hits overall during the tournament, garnering the best hitter award.
“He really stepped up his game,” Droz said.
The same could be said of Adames. He caught every inning leading up to the final, when he took the mound. Ramos, the sophomore third baseman, said he would’ve been too tired to do anything, let alone go seven innings.
The senior, however, went out and shutdown hot-hitting Morris with a fastball he spotted to each side of the plate and a late-moving breaking ball. He didn’t allow an earned run and struck out nine.
After Lehman broke the game open with four runs in the top of the seventh, Droz considered lifting Adames, but the versatile upperclassman would have none of it.
He wanted to finish what he started.
“It tells you something about Randy,” Droz gushed. “He’s a gamer. He rose to the occasion.”
Said Adames: “I didn’t really have anything left; I just tried to hit my spots.”
The tide started to turn for Lehman even before this tournament. It was a come-from-behind victory over Bronx A East power Walton, the Wildcats’ first loss.
Then Lehman rolled to easy wins the first day of the showcase at its home field.
It continued through Friday, a relentless pressure they kept on the opposing pitcher, by working counts, bunting runners over, hitting the ball to the opposite field.
“Up or down, we didn’t stop until the last inning,” Adames said.
When it was finally over, they didn’t hold back either, celebrating the title. That isn’t to say Lehman was content afterward. This wasn’t the last time the Lions hope to storm a pitcher’s mound or hoist a trophy this season.
“We want,” Ramos said, “the PSAL championship.”