Defending champion George Washington is best known for its lethal, power-hitting lineup. But it was patience that carried the Trojans to a 9-3 win over Bronx power John F. Kennedy in the opener of round robin play in their holiday tournament in Washington Heights Thursday afternoon.
GW drew three run-scoring walks with the bases loaded off Knights senior Ronald Fadul en route to a five-run first inning.
“That (the early run-scoring walks) definitely helped us out quite a bit, even though I thought we could’ve been even more patient in the first few innings,” GW coach Steve Mandl said.
However, Kennedy coach Alex Torres believes his team’s failure to score in the top half of the first with runners on first and third and nobody out caused an immediate momentum swing.
“That set a bad tone for us today,” he said. “We had a chance to take an early lead and we didn’t take advantage of the opportunity.”
Trojans right-hander Yael Regalado also got off to a rocky start, but was able to settle down after allowing three runs in the first two frames. The sophomore worked into the sixth, going 5 1/3 solid innings, yielding just three runs.
“I was leaving my fastball too far up in the strike zone,” he said.
Kennedy was able to cut its deficit to 5-3 after senior outfielder Wilman Polanco drew a walk of his own with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the third. The next batter, Frankcelis Estevez, hit a scorching line drive that was caught on a diving grab by senior second baseman Xyruse Martinez, who was able to step on second base to complete the unassisted double play that killed he Kennedy rally.
“That play was huge for us because it looked like they were going to tie the game there,” Regalado said.
The 2008 city champions took advantage of the twin killing in the home half of the third. Junior outfielder Alomar Guzman turned on an inside fastball, drilling a two-run shot over the wall in right field, extending to a 7-3 lead.
“I knew the ball was gone right when I hit it,” he said, rather matter-of-factly. “When you have a fence so close to the plate like that, you’ve got to take advantage.”
Washington ballooned its lead to 9-3 after runs in the fourth and fifth. After struggling with his command initially, right-hander Alibay Barkley got the final two outs to seal the deal.
“It’s always important to play well on your own field,” Guzman said, “and really in your own tournament also.”