- Last Updated: 2:40 AM, April 14, 2012
- Posted: 2:03 AM, April 14, 2012
In the third inning, Grand Street Campus was told to put its large drum away, get rid of the horn and table the guira, a percussion instrument from the Dominican Republic.
That was fine with the Wolves – they made noise naturally, first with rhythmic songs and an inning later with their bats.
The sounds were sweeter than the noise any drum could make.
Grand Street exploded for seven fourth-inning runs on four hits and cruised to its second straight Monroe Tournament crown, crushing Xaverian 13-6 at Monroe in The Bronx on Friday afternoon.
“It really does feel good winning this, because as [Monroe coach] Mike Turo said, this is the strongest, best field he’s ever had,” Grand Street coach Melvin Martinez said. “I think we proved to the whole world we can do this.”
By this, Martinez was referring to a city title – the ultimate goal.
“This is Part 1,” center fielder Basael (Ralphy) McDonald said. “Part 2 is in June.”
McDonald, the speedy junior, repeated as tournament MVP after scoring three runs, driving in another and stealing two bases. Maryland-bound Jose Cuas drove in the go-ahead runs in the fourth with a ringing double up the right-center field gap and the Wolves drew 14 walks from four Xaverian pitchers. On just three days rest, sophomore Alex Cuas (Jose’s brother) delivered five innings of six-hit, three-strikeout ball.
The momentum-turning fourth was similar to the nine-run ninth Grand Street put together in a 10-2 quarterfinal win over Monroe. Once a few members of the team got hits, the pressure was taken off and everyone joined the party, one line drive into the gap after another.
Elijah Rodriguez got the first big hit, a two-run single off the right-field fence, Jose Cuas followed with his two-run double, Kevin Martir plated Jose Cuas with a single and Gerry Gonzalez drove in two more with an opposite-field single.
“From one through nine, we’re all great hitters,” McDonald said. “Once somebody gets a hit, we all start hitting.”
Xaverian, it should be noted, didn’t get beat with its best. Ace Blaise Scerbo hasn’t pitched in three weeks because of a sore arm. No. 2 starter Frank Kaplan closed out two prior victories in the showcase and was unavailable. And third starter John Pena, who beat Grand Street on Monday, was being held for Saturday’s league contest against Holy Cross.
That in no way excused the Clippers’ subpar pitching, coach Lou Piccola said.
“Pitching – lack of it – that was the difference,” he said. “We walked 14 batters. Any hit they get it’s gonna multiply. Pitching wasn’t there today.”
Grand Street stormed the mound on the final pitch, celebrating the title in the prestigious showcase. They even brought out the drum and the guira for the moment. Winning this tournament, though satisfying, isn’t the end-all, Martinez reminded his players as they posed for a team photo.
“Let’s make sure we do this in June,” he told them.
Jose Cuas, the standout shortstop, didn’t need reminding. He still remembers the pain of last year’s semifinal sweep at the hands of Tottenville. This week, he said, was simply a confidence boost for him and his teammates, proof of what they are capable of.
Grand Street topped Tottenville, its longtime nemesis, got by Bronx powerhouse Monroe and took care of defending CHSAA champion Xaverian on Friday. It washed away an early-season setback to Midwood in league play.
“It shows the loss means nothing,” McDonald said.
Unlike last April, when Grand Street basked in the Monroe Tournament title, the Wolves spent the postgame talking about how this title sets them up for the rest of the year.
“We’re more focused on the one in June,” Jose Cuas said. “That’s the big one. That’s the one we really want.”Follow @NYPostsports