It wasn’t until early Thursday evening, on April 14, that Melvin Martinez could say with conviction his Grand Street Campus baseball had matured. Ironically, it was the immaturity of others that brought it out.
Moments before the first pitch against Fort Hamilton, Michael Calimeno was told to remove his jersey because he was ruled academically ineligible. Third hitter and star shortstop Jose Cuas and starting first baseman Kelvin Flores were already in street clothes, suspended for the game for undisclosed disciplinary reasons.
To make matters worse, starter Gerald Gonzalez was shaky early on, giving up three runs – two on bases-loaded walks.
Gonzalez settled down, Edrick Rivera and Darry Guerrero drove in runs with well-struck singles and speedster Basael McDonald created another with his legs as the Wolves rallied past Fort Hamilton, 5-3.
It was a telling performance for a team that had cruised thus far in league play, winning its first five contests by a combined 73-9.
“They have a lot of fight in them,” Martinez said.
Guerrero, a junior third baseman, was hit by a pitch to start the home second, went to second on Maldonado’s throwing error and scored when the pitcher threw wildly to third on Irving Gallindez’s bunt single.
Gallindez came around to score on Rivera’s single to right, Guerrero plated Jose Aponte in the third with another run-scoring hit and McDonald gave Grand Street the lead for good on another Fort Hamilton error. With two outs and runners at the corners, Aponte got himself caught in a rundown. The speedy McDonald took off for home and scored easily when Maldonado’s throw was off the mark.
The Tigers did have runners on in every inning between the third and sixth, but Maldonado struck out with two on in the sixth.
Martinez considered pulling his standout lefty in the second after he walked in two runs, missing so badly at one point three straight pitches reached the backstop. Martinez stuck with the sophomore and he responded by getting Franklyn Perez looking at a called third strike to end the frame. He gave up just one walk and two hits over his final four innings of work for his third league win.