By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The High School of Telecommunications Arts and Technology will not have a chance to defend its Public School Athletic League (PSAL) title after it was beaten by Cardozo 1-0 in a quarterfinals match at Jefferson High School’s field in East New York on Wednesday.
The game was initially supposed to be played on Tuesday at Grand Street Campus, but it was postponed after Cardozo's coach Ron Gorecki insisted that the field was "unsafe" due to basepaths that were rock hard after being baked in the sun over Memorial Day weekend and suspected that the mound was illegally high.
Telecom players and coaches disagreed and wanted to play, but were eventually overruled by the PSAL and the game was postponed until the following day. Similar conditions existed on fields throughout the city on Tuesday and no other games were postponed. Water and rakes were available and Telecom coaches worked diligently for 45 minutes to get the field in shape, but eventually Gorecki succeeded in having the game postponed.
“We all thought the field was fine,” said Telecom’s third baseman Joshua Mercado. “We’ve played on that field before and it was fine. Besides, we usually play at Bay 8th and that’s a concrete jungle. So that field, to us, was playable.”
Telecom held practice on that field immediately after the game was officially postponed. Grand Street Campus coach Steve Martinez said that the mound was never altered and that they have used it all season without complaint from any other coaches.
The situation left many to speculate that Cardozo was merely stalling in an effort to use a pitcher on Wednesday that might not have been available on Tuesday due to pitch-count rules. Telecom’s coach Ed D’Alessio did admit that the field they used on Wednesday was in much better shape.
“I don't know what the situation was because they never put the score in the computer,” D’Alessio said referring to Cardozo’s game on Saturday against John Bowne. “I am not a cry baby, but according to the rules the game is supposed to be on the computer. So how am I supposed to know how many pitches he threw? Maybe that was the reason. How would I know?
“Who knows if he pitched the other day?” D’Alessio said. “If he pitched Saturday, he probably wasn't able to pitch Tuesday.”
Either way, Cardozo’s ace Keith Rogers was available to pitch on Wednesday and he tossed a gem to hold Telecom scoreless on one hit and five strikeouts over seven innings.
“The kid was good,” said Mercado. “He mixed his pitches and located his fastball well. When you do that you are going to be hard to hit. I thought we had a chance against him in the first couple of innings because we were hitting the ball hard off of him, but after that he settled down and was really tough to hit.”
The great start by Rogers overshadowed a dominant performance by Telecom’s ace Juan Rodriguez, who allowed just one run, an unearned run, on three hits, two walks and six strikeouts.
“Juan pitched great,” Telecom first baseman Austin Ruiz said. “That's the best that I've ever seen him pitch. His stuff was terrific, he was keeping their hitters off balance. We just didn’t come through for him.”
The lone run that Cardozo scored came in the third inning when Kevin Bongiovanni blooped a single into right field, advanced to second on an error, moved to third on a wild pitch and then scored on a routine groundout to short. That was all the offense either team provided as each team got just three runners into scoring position all game long.
The loss ends Telecom's season. The Yellow Jackets finished with a 15-1 regular season record, but they did it with just 12 players and will be losing five players that are graduating so staying competitive next season won’t be easy.
“We'll be alright,” D’Alessio said. “We have some other kids, we move on. It's going to be hard to maintain. The kids Anthony Nunez and Josh Mercado are four-year players that have had great careers. It's going to be tough to replace them. We'll see what happens.”