South Bronx: PSAL A-League Baseball Champs

2016-17 Baseball "A" PSAL Champions. Credit: South Bronx Campus

2016-17 Baseball “A” PSAL Champions. Credit: South Bronx Campus

By Rich Mancuso/ Sports Editor

Frank Colon says he is the Casey Stengel of PSAL baseball coaches at South Bronx Campus.  He does have a long tenure coaching baseball in the Bronx but the difference from Stengel is winning two high school championships as a coach.

The latest PSAL title came Sunday afternoon at the College of Staten Island. The Phoenix completed an undefeated 20-0 season with a 9-6 win over Metropolitan Campus and took home the 2017 PSAL “A” divisional championship.

“I had lineups that were not hitting but this one was a beautiful thing,” Colon said Monday. The soon to be 70-year old Bronx native won his first city title at the school in 2012, a team that responded but this roster had a little of everything you need to win on the field.

The Phoenix hit at the right time and they pitched.  As Colon said, “I’m like Casey Stengel man,” referring to the tenure coaching at his age but Stengel, known as the “Old Professor” struggled to manage a championship as one of four to guide both the Yankees and Mets in New York from the dugout.

“They were coming back at us,” he said about the game. “They had a lot of confidence in themselves from one-to-eight in the lineup.” And South Bronx had the tools to get them to the top.

Senior Joel Batista finished with a .800 on base percentage and was 12-0 on the mound and made the PSAL divisional all-star team as an infielder. He went 2-for -3 and drove in a run and  Randy Alvarez drove in two runs that gave South Bronx a lead they were able to hold.

“You need a leader like that,” Colon said about the contributions Batista delivered.

To end a late comeback, Colon went to junior Joshua Cruz, a player that every coach on this level can go to because of that versatility at different positions. Cruz, a member of the T M Baseball Training Academy in the Bronx was a perfect 3-0 on the mound with a 2.46 ERA.

The save came at the right time and the 0.97 ERA, 7.20 innings, 10 strikeouts, 6-hits and 2-runs were a huge part of this championship run.

“He has a good arm,” said Colon about Cruz, who also can control a game as a reliable catcher behind the plate. “Catches with intelligence,” he said.

And at the plate, Cruz is up for all-city honors with a .615 slugging percentage. He hit for average, .351 during the regular season and .385 during the playoff run that culminated in a city championship.

“It was a team effort and how we all stayed together,” Cruz said. “We did what we had to do and it’s a great feeling to bring home the championship to our school and to the Bronx.”

Comment Rich Mancuso:  Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso

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