Monroe made Norman Thomas ace Mariel Checo look hittable and human in the first inning. The Eagles collected three hits and scored twice to take an immediate lead.
It ended up being the worst thing that could happen.
“Once we got those first two runs we got anxious,” senior catcher Joseph Gerena said. “We came out strong, came out hitting and we thought we were going to have him the whole way.”
As the Monroe batters approach at the plate changed, they began to swing at balls outside of the strike zone. Checo, meanwhile, got stronger as the game went on.
“We got three hits, we got two hard hits and I think everyone expected that they were going to hit bombs off of him,” Monroe coach Mike Turo said. “That was a problem. Their swings became very long.”
The No. 6 Eagles wouldn’t score again, let alone threaten. Checo allowed just one more hit from there and struck out 14 altogether. No. 1 Norman Thomas took advantage of several Monroe mistakes in the field and scored five times in the final three innings en route to a 5-2 victory in the PSAL Class A baseball championship at the new Yankee Stadium Tuesday.
“He proved that he just doesn’t throw fastballs,” Turo said of Checo. “He threw curveballs and change ups. The kid is a complete pitcher.”
In the first Monroe (19-3) got a one-out single and a stolen base from Melvin Garcia. He came home on an RBI-double that was launched to deep left field by Gerena. Two batters later, Elias Todman come through with a run-scoring single to right to make it 2-0. The Eagles got a leadoff single from Ricky Batista in the fourth, but he was picked off.
Ace Abel Guerrero was strong through four innings. The senior right-hander allowed just three hits, including an RBI single to Raul Gonzalez in the fourth that plated Alberto Morales, cutting the lead to 2-1. Guerrero struck out five and walked none.
Yancy Taveras led off the fifth with a triple to the wall in left-center and Guerrero was pulled in favor of junior Jesus Vasquez. His second pitch was hit to Todman in the hole at shortstop and his throw home was late. A double play appeared to quiet the Tigers (22-0) rally, but back-to back walks to Alex Triunfel and Jose Rodriguez eventually put runners on second and third. Triunfel scored on a throwing error by Gerena to make it 3-2. An RBI single by Keith Herring and an error brought in two more Norman Thomas runs in the sixth.
It was a tough way to end a brilliant season for a Monroe team with a senior class that wanted nothing more than a city championship ring.