Wesley Rodriguez ensured his team a city championship by ripping the baseball out if his coach’s hands.
The George Washington star senior, who was playing third, has seen the velocity on his 98 mile-per-hour fastball drop in recent weeks. He was tired, according to head coach Steve Mandl. That is why he didn’t plan on putting the Morris Heights native into the title game to protect a one-run lead with two on and one out in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Instead Trojan pitching coach Rafael Rodriguez walked to the mound to discuss a potential defensive play with the infield and reliever Kelvin Tapia. Rodriguez would have none of it. He grabbed the ball.
“That last inning I had to come in,” he said. “I had to do what I had to do – one more time.”
Rodriguez shut the door on Tottenville, but not without a little drama. An infield single loaded the base. He got a ground out and then struck out Everett Rodriguez looking on a sinking fastball to seal No. 3 George Washington’s 1-0 victory over No. 1 Tottenville in the PSAL Class AAA baseball final at Yankees Stadium on May 3. Rodriguez also scored the game’s lone run to give the Trojans their first crown since 2011.
“I told this team in September I was going to lead this team to a victory in the championship,” Wesley Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez, who is projects to be drafted in the top three rounds in the MLB First Year Player Draft, fell flat on his back in celebration in front of the mound as his teammates ran from the dugout to pile on top. After he ran over to his mother for a hug next to the Trojans dugout.
Sealing a city title was a situation he dreamed of since he was a freshman. He had been around the GW program as a youngster, according to Mandl. He’s seen games like this before. This one was going to be his.
“That’s how he is,” Mandl said. “He wants [the ball]. We give it to him.”
The Trojans (32-7) can thank Rodriguez for a lead to protect. He doubled to lead off the fourth inning for GW’s first hit of the game. Rodriguez later came around to score on a two-out RBI single by Leandy Castro.
“He is the best pitcher I ever had and he’s one of the top 2-3 hitters I have ever had,” Mandl said. “As a two-way player there is no one like him.”
Rodriguez continually praised his teammates, especially starter Yanmanuel Infante and Tapia, who combined to shutdown Tottenville for 6 1/3 inning. They still needed his help to finish the job. Rodriguez ensured his talents were taken advantage of even if it had to be by force.
“Those are the moments I look up to in baseball,” Rodriguez said. “If you don’t want to be in those moments, that guy, that wants the ball in those moments. That guy who wants to hit in those moments don’t play.”