Cleaning up: Madison’s Abadia has been ‘a hitting machine’ this season

Joseph Abadia figured it was an experiment when he saw his name written into the cleanup spot. The speedy James Madison senior infielder hit second last year and first early this spring.

“I thought it was going to be one or two games and go back to first,” he recalled. “But ever since then, I’ve been hitting fourth.”

And Madison, as a result, has taken off. Despite their 2-1 loss to Bushwick Campus on May 11, the Knights are battling powerhouse Grand Street Campus at the top of Brooklyn A East. Coach Vinny Caiazza made the switch in the order early in the season, with Madison struggling offensively.

“He’s a typical one hitter,” said Caiazza. “But we don’t have a four hitter.”

Abadia has responded to his new role, driving in a team-high 17 runs and batting a robust .633. With just four extra-base hits and a less than intimidating stature, he is far from a typical fourth-place hitter. Caiazza would’ve preferred to keep Abadia, who has also picked up two wins on the mound as one of the Knights’ starting pitchers, at the top of the order to get the most at-bats, but after graduating his core of Eddie Lenahan, John Yuksekol and Joe Calascione, the longtime coach had no choice.

“I’ve got too many inconsistent hitters,” Caiazza said. “So when you get one guy on, you want someone to do the job and he was the man. The guy is a hitting machine.”

Abadia says he hasn’t changed his approach much. He’ll still drop down a bunt if he sees the third baseman playing back or hit the ball to the right side to move a runner over. He does like being the guy that is counted on.

“When I see people on base, I want to be the person driving them in,” said Abadia.