08/31/2017 12:06 PM
On a picture-perfect afternoon at MCU Park in Coney Island, pitching was the story as the curtain came down on the citywide 2017 Borough Cup on Sunday as the final two division champions were crowned in the successful youth baseball tournament.
In an all-Queens battle, Esteban Garcia came within one out of a complete-game shutout as the Phenoms defeated the New York Bandits for the 11s title, 5-1.
In another 5-1 outcome, Jason Abraham and Willie King combined on a one-hitter to power the Brooklyn Bonnie Robins past the Bronx Bombers in the 12s final.
Phenoms 5, N.Y. Bandits 1
Garcia -- who struck out 10 and left with a shutout in tact before exiting due to the pitch count -- was a familiar foe for the Bandits, a team he played for briefly last season.
"To be honest, I felt nervous because I was going against my old team," said Garcia, who no-hit the Bandits over the first 3 1/3 innings. "I didn't know what to expect."
Bandits manager Carlos Diaz wasn't surprised, however.
"We knew he'd be tough. He pitched a heck of a game, you can't take anything away from him," Diaz said of Garcia. "We had to swing the bats."
The Phenoms only got four hits themselves, but three of those came in their five-run third inning. With the bases loaded and one out, two of the Bandits' five errors in the frame were made on Ralph Riviera's liner that produced three runs. Garcia and Max Urena followed with consecutive RBI singles.
"There are no holes in our lineup, there's not an easy out," stated Phenoms manager Phil Kelly. "I feel confident in every guy on the field making a play."
The Bandits finally broke through in the top of the sixth on Carlos Tavares' two-out RBI single, but reliever Jack Roventini recorded the final out to end it.
"Esteban threw first-pitch strikes and had tremendous command of three pitches," said Kelly. "He's real mature for an 11-year-old boy."
Garcia not only knew many of the Bandits from being their teammate last season "but many of them had been on my previous team for three years, Youth Services. I knew their strengths and weaknesses, but they knew mine. So I had to pitch them carefully."
Brooklyn Bonnie Robins 5, Bronx Bombers 1
Abraham no-hit the Bombers until Augusta Del Carmen's leadoff single in the fifth. King entered two outs later and finished the gem.
"We knew we may not score many runs, but we also knew we wouldn't give up many because of Jason. He has a lot of potential," said Robins manager Jose Castro, whose squad was playing its 121st game of the spring/summer season. "He had command of his fastball; he threw the two and four-seamer and located it where he wanted to."
The Robins' aggressiveness on the base paths was the key to victory. After two walks and two steals put a pair in scoring position, Oren Williams beat the throw home on Daniel Nedov's fielder's choice grounder for the first run. And when Nedov enticed a throw to second from the catcher on the same sequence, Marquis Pearson sped home for a second run.
In the third, Abraham reached on a bunt single and eventually scored on a passed ball to make it 3-0. The following frame, Pearson singled with one out and later came home on Jonathan Grant's sacrifice fly.
After the Bombers broke the shutout in the fifth on Del Carmen's hit and Aidan Baglino's RBI grounder, Abraham's speed was on display again in the bottom of the stanza. He beat out a seemingly routine grounder to second, stole two bases and scored when the catcher's throw went awry.
"We kept the pressure on with our running game," Castro said.