- Last Updated: 4:09 AM, April 13, 2012
- Posted: 3:10 AM, April 13, 2012
When a group of Cardozo players arrived at George Washington blasting Jadakiss’ “The Champ is Here,” Nelson Rodriguez gritted his teeth. After the Judges chanted “Our house,” before Thursday’s George Washington Tournament final, he seethed inside but said nothing.
The pro prospect and his teammates let their actions do the talking. The Trojans plated four first-inning runs, Edwin Corniel tossed 6-1/3 shutout frames and GW cruised to a 6-0 win over Cardozo five days after falling to the Queens school.
“This is our house,” Rodriguez said, “and we protect this house.”
Corniel took a step further, saying he felt “disrespected" by the pre-game taunts.
“Talk is cheap,” he said. “We showed them the kind of team we are.”
Unlike the previous meeting, George Washington played a clean game in the field. Cardozo, which replaced its foe atop The Post's PSAL rankings after the win, went with soft-tossing righthander Calvin Luk. He threw two shutout innings last Saturday, but was touched up for five runs this time, the big blow Yasmany Gomez’s three-run, first-inning home run to the opposite field.
Co-aces Adrian Castano and Connor Doyle worked the final five innings and were solid – Alexis Torres’ run-scoring triple was the lone blemish – but the Judges could do little against Corniel. The hefty righty, who was ruled ineligible last year after transferring from A.P. Randolph, allowed just three hits, struck out eight and walked three in an impressive 104-pitch outing.
“He was on his ‘A’ game,” Rodriguez said. “He was locating his pitches and his curveball was on point.”
He found trouble in the third. Chris Campbell singled and Doyle walked, but Gomez made a leaping catch against the right-field wall to rob Nicanor Luna of an extra-base hit and Corniel fanned Diego Gonzalez to end the threat.
“He singlehandedly beat us,” Cardozo coach Ron Gorecki said of Gomez.
In an ironic twist, Mandl said he has taken out Gomez late in games for defensive purposes. He is, in fact, only in the lineup because center fielder Fernelys Sanchez fractured his ankle during the preseason.
“That play was very big, it could’ve been one or two runs,” Corniel said. “I love that kid. He’s a monster.”
Despite the loss, Gorecki considered this week a bonus. Cardozo went 4-2, proved to itself it can not only play with GW but beat them, and also topped playoff contenders Walton and John F. Kennedy in impressive fashion.
“In Queens we don’t have this type of depth, this type of strength,” the coach said. “I think this has been beneficial to my guys.”
GW coach Steve Mandl played down the victory’s significance, other than it was important to win the tournament. He actually felt his team played well in the loss to Cardozo aside from a few defensive miscues. Those were gone on Thursday.
“Today we played good defense, hit when we had to hit and we got great pitching,” he said.
His team felt differently – that was clear by how they reacted to the victory. They rushed closer Reynaldo Hernandez after he punctuated the victory by striking out Castano. Minutes later, they dumped the Gatorade bucket on Mandl and whatever was left on Corniel. It had nothing to do with the opponent, Rodriguez said. It was about winning a title.
“Every time we win a championship, we do a dog pile,” he said. “It’s fun to do that.”
George Washington hopes to have another title to celebrate in June.Follow @NYPostsports