Julio Rivera’s value to Telecommunications is in the field. Coach Ed D’Alessio uses the senior as a late-inning defensive replacement and often reinserts starting second baseman Jose Espinal if a big hit is needed.
That was the case Wednesday afternoon, but D’Alessio went against the book -- the Telecom baseball coach doesn’t overly rely on a binder. When the longtime head man saw Rivera toss his bat and helmet in frustration prior to pinch-hitting for him, D’Alessio reversed course and went with Rivera.
“I saw he wanted it bad,” the coach said.
Telecommunications celebrates its 3-2 win over James Madison in Wednesday.
Telecommunication's A.J. Serrano went the distance for his fourth league win.
The senior rewarded his coach, lining a sacrifice fly into right field to plate sophomore Anthony Nunez with the game-winning run as the Yellow Jackets topped rival Madison, 3-2, in PSAL Brooklyn A crossover action at Ben Vitale Park in Bensonhurst.
“I felt I could do it,” Rivera said. “It was nothing against Jose. I wanted the shot to win the game.”
Rivera’s drive made a winner out of sophomore A.J. Serrano. The impressive lefthander retired the final 12 hitters he faced, struck out six, walked two and scattered six hits, all over the first three innings. He picked off two runners and worked out of a first-and-third, one-out situation in the second for his fourth league win.
“He’s a money pitcher,” D’Alessio said. “He got stronger as he went along, his velocity picked up and his location improved.”
It was an impressive bounce-back victory for young Telecom, which nearly upset title contender Grand Street Campus on Tuesday. It took a 3-2 lead in the seventh before the Wolves rallied for the victory – just as Telecom did to Madison.
“That says a lot about their team,” Madison coach Vinny Caiazza said.
Nunez started the home seventh by lacing a Joe Cali fastball for a triple up the left-center field gap. Rivera followed with the sac fly, Nunez easily beating right fielder Jordan Wilson’s throw. Cali was the hard-luck loser, going six-plus innings, allowing five hits, three runs, walking three and striking out one. Matt Zalon drove in Madison’s two runs in the third with a double.
“It was a great game, somebody had to lose,” Caiazza said. “Both teams played really well, both pitchers settled down after the first three innings.”
Telecom (7-1, Brooklyn A West) has proven it belong among the PSAL’s best despite its youth. It has defeated defending CHSAA Class AA champion Xaverian and PSAL contenders Bryant and John Adams in non-league, nearly ousted Grand Street Campus and has topped rival Madison twice.
D’Alessio entered this week cautiously optimistic because of inexperience – his core is made up of juniors, sophomores and a few freshmen – and while his team was undefeated in league play, each victory was against a weak opponent in a lopsided manner.
“I think with this team we got some good potential,” D’Alessio said. “We needed qualify games because the competition is down in our division. These competitive games now they’ll know what they have to do on the highest level. We know we can hang in there with the top teams.”
While the Yellow Jackets may not be mentioned in the same breath as Grand Street, George Washington, Cardozo and Tottenville, they have proven they could be dangerous come late May, just like last year when they nearly upended Grand Street in the quarterfinals.
“We just need to keep playing hard, do what we’ve been doing and show we should get talked about also,” Rivera said.
Julio Rivera, James Madison, Yellow Jackets, Yellow Jackets, Telecommunications, Telecom, Telecom, Jose Espinal, A.J. Serrano, Anthony Nunez, PSAL, PSAL, Madison coach Vinny Caiazza