New York High School: NIck Carbone

GW's Cedeno first two-time champ

June, 25, 2011
In sports, being a part of a winner is mostly the product of being in the right spot at the right time. That’s what George Washington pitcher Jariel Cedeno attributes to becoming the first baseball player in the Public School Athletic League’s history to win a championship with two different teams, as he won one with Norman Thomas in 2009 and another this season with George Washington.

However, it doesn’t hurt that he has an uncanny knack for rising to the occasion.

"He really thrives on pressure," George Washington interim coach Nick Carbone said. "It doesn't matter who he's facing, he really likes the pressure."

Cedeno’s road to becoming a two-time champion started two years ago while he was pitching for Norman Thomas. He was a sophomore and was usually behind the two seniors, including eventual Yankee draft pick Mariel Checo, and a junior. He didn’t have a lot of confidence and was having trouble learning to pitch.

"It hurt him because he wanted to be a power pitcher and that’s what they were," Norman Thomas head coach Nerva Jean Pierre said. "So he’d watch them and try to pump up the gun like them. We tried to tell him to pitch within himself and not always worry about trying to throw 90."

Injuries forced him to start a big game against division rival George Washington. He was nervous before the game, but after he threw a complete game, winning 3-2, he emerged as a different pitcher.

"I always say that a young pitcher is like a tea bag, you never know what you are going to get until you put it in boiling water," Cedeno said.

Working on the advice of his coach, Cedeno scaled back his pitches and used more curveballs and changeups instead. Cedeno attributes that game as the one that showed him to be confident in his own abilities and not to try to throw like a pitcher he is incapable of emulating.

"That game helped me a lot," Cedeno said. "It helped me to realize that I didn't need to throw 90 in a game. I just needed to use my head, make my pitches, and force the batter to adjust. That gave me so much confidence as a pitcher."

Two years later he was pitching for, not against, George Washington, as he had been kicked off the Norman Thomas team after a fight, and he still had that confidence that gives him the ability to pitch with no fear, no matter how intense the situation. This time he played a much bigger role en route to his second PSAL championship, taking the role as one of the staff anchors.

"He's a guy I know that I want to get the ball in his hands in big games," Carbone said. "He says 'I gotcha' meaning that he's going to step up and I need to hear him say that. I calm down right away when he tells me that."

Carbone said the semifinal game against Lehman this year was a prime example of that as Cedeno allowed just one unearned run over six innings in a 5-1 victory. During the game, he put quite a few base runners on, but he rose to the occasion to get out of every jam and won the game, sending Washington to the city finals.

"It doesn't surprise me at all that he has won two championships," Carbone said of his 5-7, 195-pound pitcher. "He takes people by surprise because he doesn't look like a prototypical pitcher, but he's really handles the mental aspect of this game well.

"When the game is on the line, it always made me feel better to have the ball in his hands."

Coaches surprised by two-game suspensions

June, 23, 2011
The Public School Athletic League announced Wednesday that two baseball coaches, Nick Carbone of George Washington and Adam Droz of Lehman, have been suspended two games to start the 2012 regular season. Neither coach thought the suspension was overly unfair since both coaches were suspended, but both were surprised by it.

The incident that led to the two suspensions occurred June 3 at MCU Park in Brooklyn. After game one of the PSAL Class “A” semifinals, a 5-4 George Washington win, some of the George Washington players refused to shake hands with their Lehman opponents. Droz took exception to this and let the league’s commissioner, Bob Pertsas, hear it on the field.

“I regret how I handled it,” Droz said. “I should have brought him to the dugout and discussed it, but I was angry. I don't regret talking to him about it though. I demand respect and that's the utmost disrespectful thing to do on the baseball field.”

Carbone said that he was unsure that the teams were even supposed to shake hands after the game as his experience from college baseball taught him that teams normally reserve that until the end of a series. Since this was after the first game in a three game series he told some of his players that they weren’t even going to do the handshake line.

He said that once his kids went out on to the field it wasn’t every kid that refused to shake hands, or even most kids, and the entire incident was overblown.

“The problem was there was a newspaper report that said that our guys walked down the line with their ‘hands pinned to their sides,’ and that didn't happen,” Carbone explained. “If there were guys in the front of the line that didn't shake hands, that was addressed. Sportsmanship is high on my list.”

Carbone thought the incident was behind both teams.

“It's kind of confusing, there was an incident in the hand shaking line and it was addressed that night by myself, commissioner, and Coach Droz,” Carbone said. “The following day we had another meeting to address it further. On Saturday, both teams were well behaved and there was zero incident. I thought it was handled.”

Carbone also took exception to the fact that the same day they sent him a letter to attend a disciplinary meeting was the same day that he was asked to coach the Mayor’s Cup, an all-star game between the catholic league and public league.

“They said the suspension was due to 'unprofessional behavior' on Friday,” Carbone said. “If I’m so unprofessional than why am I good enough to coach the all-star game? I don't understand that.”

Droz said that he does not plan to appeal the suspension. Carbone, who will return to Washington as an assistant coach after serving as interim head coach this season, has already reached out to his union rep to discuss an appeal.

“I'm just a volunteer assistant. I'm doing this for the kids, so yeah I want to be out there as much as possible,” Carbone said. “I contacted the union rep, at this point I don't know what my rights are as to weather I can fight it. I have contacted them so I’ll see what they say.”

PSAL suspends GW & Lehman baseball coaches

June, 22, 2011
The Public Schools Athletic League will suspend interim George Washington baseball coach Nick Carbone and Lehman coach Adam Droz two games each for “unsportsmanlike behavior following the first game of the semifinals,” according to New York City Department of Education spokeswoman Margie Feinberg.

The two teams had a heated rivalry during the season, as it was Droz who filed the complaint that led to the suspension of George Washington coach Steve Mandl, who ultimately missed the entire season.

Droz alleged that Mandl recruited Fernelys Sanchez, who transferred from Lehman to George Washington, and the PSAL suspended Mandl for a full year. Mandl is still waiting to hear from the courts as to whether city acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner and violated his due process rights. He is scheduled to return to the dugout next season, which would make Carbone the assistant once again next year when he serves his suspension.

George Washington and Lehman faced off the PSAL Class "A" semifinals this season, a series that the Trojans ended up sweeping on their way to a PSAL crown. The first game, a 5-4 George Washington victory, included a controversial play in which Sanchez was originally ruled out on a ground ball, but the umpires later reversed their decision and said the ball hit him in the box, making it a foul ball. On the next pitch, Sanchez stroked a two-RBI single to give George Washington a 5-3 lead.

According to the New York Post, several George Washington players did not shake hands after the game with some of Lehman's players and with Droz, which upset the Lions. PSAL Baseball Commissioner Bob Pertsas ultimately talked with both coaches for 20 minutes following the game, the Post reported.

Both Carbone and Droz were unavailable to comment Wednesday night.

GW's Carbone top baseball coach

June, 22, 2011
Nobody could have expected that the Public Schools Athletic League would suspend legendary baseball coach Steve Mandl for alleged recruitment violations, and not many would have expected that interim coach Nick Carbone would lead them to their third title in schools history.

"The entire thing was a whirlwind," Carbone said. "A bomb was dropped on us in February and the season was a whirlwind from beginning to the end."

It was a whirlwind that Carbone managed perfectly. Not only did he keep the off the field distractions from bothering his players, but he even managed to get the most out of them. For keeping George Washington focused, and bringing another city title to George Washington, Carbone has been named’s Coach of the Year.

"The most important thing was keeping the off the field stuff off the field and not bringing the off the field issues on the field," Carbone explained.

Off the field, the courtroom battle to reinstate Mandl lasted all season. Throughout it all the team never wavered, going 16-0 in league play and eventually winning a city championship. That included a semifinal series against Lehman, whose coach, Adam Droz, filed the complain that led to Mandl’s suspension.

Carbone had quite a bit of help though. He said his father, a varsity baseball coach for over 20 years and Mandl influenced his coaching style. He also complimented George Washington assistants Rafael Espinal and Ronnie Delarosa.

Fresh off a city championship, Carbone will have to hand the head coaching reigns back to Mandl next season. It’s a move he is prepared to make although he does have his eyes set on another head coaching position eventually.

"I'm going back to George Washington next year, but head coaching is definitely in my future," Carbone said. "I just don't have a time table on it right now."

Washington beats Tottenville for Class A title

June, 12, 2011
A year ago, George Washington pitcher Yael Regalado could not imagine he would be pitching in such an important game as the Public School Athletic League Class "A" final.

Pain in his right elbow ended his year early last season and doctors told him he would need Tommy John Surgery, which he ultimately avoided.

While his road back to the mound challenged him, that road led him to the mound for the PSAL title game where he pitched George Washington to a 4-2 win over Tottenville Saturday night to capture the Class “A” title at MCU Park in Brooklyn.

“I put so much pressure on myself this year to make up for missing last season,” Regalado said. “I didn’t put my head down though. Everything I missed last year, I had to make up for it this year.”

Regalado did his part to make up for lost time as he pitched six innings and held one of the PSAL’s toughest lineups to just one run while striking out seven.

“He’s been our ace all season,” Washington interim head coach Nick Carbone said. “He’s got a big heart. Even though he got into trouble at some points, he really battled and competed and got out of jams when he needed to get out of jams. He was great today.”

Washington took a 1-0 lead in the second on a sacrifice fly by Justin Ferrer, but Tottenville rallied to take a 2-1 lead in the top of the fifth.

Anthony Capo drove in Gilberto Mendoza to tie it at 1-1. Thomas Kain then scored to make it 2-1 when Washington catcher Nelson Rodriguez threw the ball into center field on a stolen base attempt by Capo.

While Tottenville claimed the lead, a key play in the inning was Washington outfielder Fernelys Sanchez making an amazing running and jumping catch with runners on first and third and two outs. It saved one, possibly two runs.

“He is big time,” Carbone said. “He’s nationally recognized for a reason. He’s going to be a special player at the next level. That’s two great catches he’s made (in the postseason) for us now.”

In the bottom of the inning, Washington took the lead for good. Roman gave the Trojans a 3-2 lead on a single that drove in Henry Rodriguez and Randy Rodriguez. George Washington picked up an insurance run in the sixth on a suicide squeeze and freshman Reynaldo Hernandez picked up the save.

This win truly showcased how good the Trojans were this season.

They had a tremendous lineup that gave Tottenville ace Michael Sullivan, who had a 3-0 record with a 0.54 ERA, trouble all day. They got key hits and showed that they could play small ball. Regalado’s performance was equally as impressive against a tough Tottenville lineup.

To a man, every player on the team said they couldn’t have won the title without their suspended coach Steve Mandl as inspiration. Mandl was suspended on Feb. 15 for allegedly recruiting a player and did not get a preliminary injunction that would’ve allowed him to coach Saturday.

Mandl refused to take credit for the win, but thought his team did a great job separating off the field issues from the on the field stuff.

“That was the big worry, that they would carry their emotions on to the field with them,” Mandl said. “They really did a great job remaining professional though and I think they were able to channel that emotion and use it in a really positive way. They got us another city championship.”

Mandl has to watch team win from stands

June, 12, 2011
One way or another, George Washington’s suspended baseball coach Steve Mandl was going to be in attendance to watch his team play for the PSAL Class "A” title Saturday.

“I had to be here,” Mandl said. “It meant so much to the kids and it meant a lot to me too. There was no way I was missing this, I just wish I could have been on the bench.”

Mandl had to watch his Trojans beat the Tottenville Pirates 4-2 to win the city championship from the stands like any other spectator when a judge failed to grant him an injunction in time for their final game. Mandl was suspended by the PSAL for allegedly recruiting a player.

“After about 8:00 p.m. last night I knew there was no chance a ruling would come in time,” Mandl said. “It’s so surreal. I was in Camden at a Phish concert last night and every time I got a text I thought I was getting the word.

“I was at a concert having the time of my life, but every second I was thinking about baseball.”

Despite the fact that Mandl couldn’t coach in the biggest game of the year, he parked himself right next to his team’s dugout and some players said that just his presence in the ball park along lifted their spirits.

“Just having him here there with us today was amazing,” said Washington’s center fielder Ferneyls Sanchez. “He didn’t say much to us during the game, but every time there was a big play I would just look over to him and make eye contact. That alone was huge.”

At one point on Saturday, Mandl thought he might have one more shot at coaching in the final. Rain struck the “B” division game that took place immediately before the Washington/Tottenville game that caused a 75-minute rain delay. With more rain forecasted for Sunday, there was some thought that this game could have been postponed until Monday.

“Truthfully, I was hoping that it would get rained out,” Mandl admitted. “But with my luck it would have been a six hour rain delay first and I would have been waiting here until 11:00 p.m.”

Even if there had been a rain delay it wouldn’t have guaranteed that Mandl would be reinstated in time to coach. The game would have had to have been delayed Sunday as well and even then things would have had to go right in the court house.

“I felt like eventually they would have ruled in my favor,” Mandl said. “We just ran out of time.”

For as desperate as Mandl was to get reinstated in time for this game, while he was standing on the field watching his team celebrate their first championship since 2008, he wouldn’t take any of the credit and even went as far as to say that he wouldn’t have taken the head coaching reigns.

“If I had come back, I would have coached third,” Mandl said. “This guy (interim head coach Nick Carbone) brought them here. He deserved the honor of leading them. He did a great, great job. As tough as it was for the kids to deal with this it was even tougher for him.”

PSAL title game overshadowed by Mandl's case

June, 10, 2011
Whether he is in the George Washington dugout or not, suspended coach Steve Mandl plans to attend the PSAL Class A final against Tottenville tomorrow at MCU Park in Coney Island.

As Mandl awaits a decision on his lawsuit against the Board of Education and the PSAL that could allow him to return to action Saturday, his presence will loom over the game, both literally and figuratively, the way his jersey has hung in the background of every Trojans’ game this season. Mandl was suspended for allegedly recruiting a player.

Whoever the coach, it will not change the way George Washington plays. Interim head coach Nick Carbone said at the start of the season that the team would continue to play the way they always play. The Trojans will play the same team that bounced them in the semifinals last year.

“We’re looking for revenge because last year they eliminated us in the semis,” said George Washington catcher Nelson Rodriguez. “We just have to stay focused on what’s happening on the field and win the game.”

George Washington is playing for its second city championship since 2008. The Trojans have proven they can play with the pressure and ignore the distractions this season, while their legendary coach wages an endless battle with the PSAL. Mandl has contended that he was never given his due process right before he was suspended.

In the meantime, the Trojans’ went undefeated in league play this season in league play and swept Lehman in the semifinal. Lehman head coach Adam Droz that filed the complaint with the PSAL against Mandl, alleging that he recruited junior Fernelys Sanchez.

What gets lost in all the drama surrounding the ball game is the fact that Tottenville is playing its best ball of the season, handling Grand Street in the semifinals in two games.

“Obviously, we expect them to be all charged up and emotional,” Tottenville coach Tom Tierney Jr. said of GW. “That’s how they are in the regular season when we play so I’m sure this will be no different. We’re trying to control what we can control. If Coach (Mandl) comes back they are going to be a tough team to beat. If he doesn’t come back, they’re still going to be a real tough team to beat. There’s only certain things we can control so we try to get our kids to focus on what we can do.”

Tottenville is going to ride the arm of Michael Sullivan, who handcuffed Grand Street, and a rejuvenated offense led by Kevin Krause, a Stony Brook recruit. Krause missed 10 days at the end of the regular season with a broken toe but his return in the playoffs has taken pressure off his teammates and put another strong bat in the lineup. The result was 18 runs in the semifinals.

Both Carbone and Tierney, Jr. said that once the teams take the field and the first pitch is thrown, all the drama and context of the game will fade. Mandl said he has stayed away from playoff games because he doesn’t want to be accused of tampering or relaying signs.

“We’re all anxious for Coach Mandl to get back and I’d love to have him back for Saturday, I know the guys would love to have him back for Saturday,” Carbone said. “But at the same time, we’re preparing to play a great team and a great program on Saturday. We have to get ready to play. As much as all that stuff is swirling around, we have to prepare to win a championship.”

Rapid Reaction: PSAL SF: GW 5, Lehman 1

June, 4, 2011
NEW YORK - He’ll never be on the basketball team and might not be intimidating on the mound, but George Washington’s 5-8, 195-pound pitcher Jariel Cedeno knows how to get the job done.

“He doesn’t look like the typical pitcher,” said Washington interim head coach Nick Carbone. “He’s more like a Bartolo Colon type. It’s not always easy seeing him walk so many batters, but he always buckles down in those tough situations and gets the job done. He’s a bulldog.”

A bulldog may be the best way to describe Cedeno, who has been told by scouts that he doesn’t exactly fit the profile of a professional ball player. With his shirt constantly untucked on the mound, Cedeno said he thrives in pressure situations and he proved it Saturday as he pitched the Trojans to a 5-1 victory over Lehman in the Public Schools Athletic League Class “A” semifinals Saturday at MCU Park in Brooklyn.

Washington swept the best-of-three series again Lehman, whose coach filed a complain that led to the suspension of Washington coach Steve Mandl, and advances to the Class “A” final.

“I love pitching in this type of atmosphere,” Cedeno explained. “I told my coaches not to even use me if it isn’t a big game because I get bored and don’t pitch as well. Something about being in a big game makes me thrive in these situations.”

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: Washington has been coming from behind in all but one game in the playoffs this year, but it scored first when Lehman left fielder Steven Pinales dropped a ball with a runner on second base.

After Lehman tied it in the bottom of the second, Washington took the lead in the fifth inning on a RBI single by Jorge Toribio.

In the sixth, things fell apart for Lehman. A bases-loaded single by Henry Rodriguez drove in a run, an error by Lehman second baseman Jose Rosado allowed another run, and another single by Randy Rodriguez made it 5-1.

"This was an emotional series for us, playing without our father," Cedeno said of Mandl. "He means so much and none of us would be here without him. He is really like a father to us. He doesn't have one son, he has 35."

TURNING POINT: Washington had a 5-1 lead going into the bottom of the sixth inning, but Lehman loaded the bases with two out and Angel Zapata drove a ball to deep center that had triple written all over it. Trojans center fielder Fernelys Sanchez made an amazing running catch with his back to the plate to save three, maybe four runs, and preserved the 5-1 lead. Sanchez was the player that Lehman coach Adam Droz alleged that Mandl recruited.

“That was just an amazing catch,” exclaimed Cedeno. “I definitely owe him one for that one. I’m not sure how I’ll pay him back, but I owe him big. That maybe saves the entire game right there.”

STAR OF THE GAME: Washington’s bats weren’t amazing this weekend, but their pitchers once again picked them up. This time it was Cedeno who pitched six innings, allowed just five hits, walked four, and struck out two. If not for an untimely error he could have had a shutout.

QUOTE OF THE GAME: “Not being there was incredibly tough, but I’m extremely proud of my team and I am especially proud of Fernelys. I was afraid for him and wondered if everything going on outside of this game would effect him. But he got the big hit yesterday and the great play today. He’s been amazing,”--Mandl by phone after the game.

UP NEXT: Washington awaits the winner of the Grand St. Campus vs. Tottenville series in the finals, and Tottenville leads that series 1-0.

Suspension fuels GW-Lehman semifinal

June, 3, 2011
Interim George Washington baseball coach Nick Carbone and his squad have to look no farther than the other team's dugout to find motivation for their Public Schools Athletic League semifinal series against Lehman that begins Friday at 7 p.m.

Friday's opener will match George Washington against a Lehman squad coached by Adam Droz, who filed the charges that led to George Washington coach Steve Mandl’s one-year suspension for allegedly recruiting a former Lions player.

Suffice it to say, Droz is about as popular with the Trojans as someone in a Red Sox t-shirt at Yankee Stadium.

“It’s a motivating factor for us,” Carbone said. “Coach Mandl is part of our family. He’s our coach. When someone makes false accusations, that is a motivating factor.”

While hitting, fielding and pitching will determine which team survives the best-of-three series and advances to the Class “A” title game, it’s the off-the-field controversy that led to Mandl’s suspension that has added some spice to this weekend's games at MCU Park in Brooklyn.

“It would mean a lot to us as a family to beat Lehman,” Carbone said. “We’re a family. We spend so much time together and we work so hard all day and every day and when someone falsely accuses one of your family members of something he didn’t do, to get that redemption on the field, that’s a great thing.”

On May 13, 2010, Droz filed a complaint with the PSAL that Mandl had approached one of his players, Fernelys Sanchez, about leaving Lehman and coming to George Washington to play baseball for the Trojans. The PSAL investigated the claim and ruled that Mandl had indeed recruited Sanchez and on Feb. 15 it suspended Mandl for one season.

Since then, Mandl has vehemently denied that he recruited Sanchez and tried in vain to get a Temporary Restraining Order that would reinstate him as coach. He will appear again in court on June 6.

With Mandl gone, Carbone led the Trojans to an undefeated league record and the top seed in the PSAL, where they now will meet Lehman. Carbone said it’s almost “like it was meant to be” that this matchup is happening, having seen the possibility when he did a mock bracket.

Carbone isn’t afraid to label the suspension as a rallying point for his team, but doesn't want his team to focus solely on it.

“Our goal is to win a championship and we have to be able to separate the off the field stuff from on the field,” Carbone said. “We’ve talked and it’s addressed. We know we have to throw strikes and play baseball, and we have to do certain things successful.”

In the Lions' camp, Droz avoided the subject, saying that it’s all about his team. He said his team is excited about an opportunity to reach the final and has its own motivation to pull an upset as the No. 4 seed in the tournament.

“I think our team has been playing very well,” Droz said. “We’re the kind of team that doesn’t give up easily and we’ll keep coming at you.”

When Mandl last appeared in court on May 19, he brought his jersey with him in his car hoping to be on the field. Instead, there’s only one chance left for him to coach again this season, albeit a very small chance, and that would be the city title game on June 10.

For that to happen, the Trojans will have to survive a three-game series that promises to challenge them physically and mentally.

“They ripped the family apart and the kids are upset their father is being accused of something that is ridiculous,” Mandl said. “I appreciate it but want them to go out and play baseball.”

GW's Nelson Rodriguez a force at the plate and behind it

May, 2, 2011
NEW YORK – A few steps behind the bench, Nelson Rodriguez was clutching his bat, grinding his palm against the neck, searching to get a feel for the wood.

He paces briefly. George Washington’s junior catcher had turned his action to the game, while Beacon led the Trojans by a run on April 27 and pushed them against the ropes. Rodriguez had struck out twice already – once swinging, once looking.

Rodriguez didn’t seem frustrated. Just annoyed. He went to the batting cage.

He’s making contact now on the pitches that don’t count. Trying to get his rhythm back. He drove a ball hard against the netting in the batting cage about 20 feet away from home plate.

Rodriguez is one of the scariest hitters in New York City high school baseball. The fact that he suits up for George Washington and is built like a house has already drawn comparisons to recently retired Major Leaguer Manny Ramirez, a former GW star.

On his fourth at-bat, he showed his best swing of the afternoon and earned a single when Beacon’s center fielder misplayed a hard-hit pop fly in the sixth inning.

“My offensive wasn’t really good today,” Rodriguez said after the game that his team ended up winning 5-4 when Beacon’s reliever gave up a base-loaded walk with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.

Even on a day when his bat didn’t do that much damage, Rodriguez found other ways to affect the game. The two teams were tied at 4 in the top of the seventh and Beacon had one on. Beacon was looking to rally and Garrison Poulis was looking to bunt runner Caleb Kerbs over.

Poulis’s bunt popped a 1-1 pitch straight up. Rodriguez lost the ball for a split second. Then he ditched his mask, snatched the ball for one out and threw a laser to Ferrer to double-up Kerbs at first.

George Washington interim-head coach Nick Carbone said Rodriguez saved the game on that play.

“There aren’t going to be many days that Nelson goes 0-3,” Carbone said. “That never happens.”

The 17-year old Rodriquez is built like a grown man at 6-1, 225 pounds. He’s got an arm that throws bullets and quick enough feet that he’ll surely be drafted next year. As powerful as he is at the plate, he’s also impressive behind it. Some of those skills he said he learned while playing on the Bobby Valentine All-American team over the summer and Team USA in the fall.

His coach and teammates consider him a worker. His experience with the Bobby Valentine team and Team USA has made him better defensively, but it’s going to be his bat that decides the extent of Rodriguez’s upside. It’s not unusual for the junior to look for extra swings even during games. He does that sometimes in games if he’s feeling off.

Rodriquez, who hit .516 with 38 walks and eight home runs last season, will also be the first person in the cage before practice. Carbone said Rodriguez shows up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday before a double-header to get in the cage.

Sometimes, after games, he goes down to Michael Buzek Ballfield on Amsterdam Ave, behind the school, with senior backup catcher Osvaldo Pichardo, for more batting practice. Rodriguez is batting.353 through seven league games this season with a grand slam in a win against Monroe and walk-off homer against St. Raymond on a day he hit 4-for-5. He’s also helped George Washington to a 7-0 mark in league play.

“I just want to get better everyday,” Rodriguez said.

Scouts say Rodriguez has the body and the defensive tools. The power is there. Carbone said the soft-spoken Rodriguez is already a leader, even if he’s not one of GW’s most vocal guys.

“He talks with his bat,” said senior pitcher Jariel Cedeno said. “He’s a different kind of kid because he’s dedicated. There are a lot of kids that are good but aren’t dedicated. He’s special.”

Rapid Reaction: GW 5, Beacon 4

April, 27, 2011
NEW YORK – If there was one thing that George Washington coach Nick Carbone wanted his players to understand after Wednesday’s game vs. Beacon, it was that they aren’t going to steamroll every team they face. The Trojans had to start “thinking baseball.”

That’s what junior outfielder Erick Roman did when he watched Beacon pitcher Kai Glick throw him four straight balls to draw a walk-off walk in the Trojans’ 5-4 win over Beacon Wednesday at home.

“That’s the kind of play we needed,” Carbone said. “We didn’t need him to go up there and hit a grand slam. We needed to get something. Go up there and challenge the guy. Get hit by a pitch. Draw a walk. That’s what he did.”

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: In a battle of two undefeated teams in the Public Schools Athletic League, neither team really took control early and the teams were tied 1-1 headed into the third. Then, Beacon’s Dylan Long slapped a sharp grounder into centerfield for a double that scored two runs.

Batters started to make more contact off GW’s freshman pitcher Reynaldo Hernandez in the middle innings. Giovanni Dingcong drove a ball to deep center for a double with one out in the fourth. Garrison Poulis later drove him home with a two-out RBI double to push lead to 4-1 for Beacon (6-1).

At the same time, Beacon pitcher Juan Adorno was cruising. He recorded five of his six strikeouts in the first three innings and had the Trojans (7-0) reeling.

“In the beginning, it was ugly,” Roman said.

But George Washington didn’t fold. It erupted with a three-run fifth inning to force a 4-4 tie. Hernandez responded by striking out two batters in a 1-2-3 sixth.

George Washington could have slammed the door in the sixth when it loaded the bases with one out, but Alexis Torres struck out looking and Justin Ferrer shot a hard line drive to right that left everyone stranded.

In the bottom of the seventh, Glick, who entered the game in the fifth, struggled with his command and GW capitalized. Glick would have been Beacon’s ace this season, but he’s still coming back from a shoulder tear and only cleared to throw 60 pitches before the game.

He walked Henry Rodriguez and Fernelys Sanchez to start the inning. With two outs, he intentionally walked GW slugger Nelson Rodriguez, bringing Roman to the plate. He threw three pitches that got away from catcher Avery Perez – two in the dirt and a high fastball over his head – before he walked Roman to end the game.

“We played great,” Beacon coach Thomas Covotsos said. “We played every inning like it was the last game of the World Series. I’m very proud of our guys.”

TURNING POINT: Carbone was begging for a base runner when his team took its hacks in the bottom of the fifth. First, Roman drew a walk. Osvaldo Pichardo followed with a single to put two runners on. Then, Alexis Torres crushed a 2-2 fastball off the fence in left center for a triple that scored Roman and Pichardo. Torres initially strooped at third but Beacon’s shortstop bobbled the relay throw and Torres scurried home to tie the game.

“His curveball wasn’t hitting for strikes,” Torres said of Adorno. “I knew I just had to be patient and I was just waiting on the fastball.”

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Torres struck out twice in the game but each time he reached base, he scored a run that tied the score. He drew a walk in the first and scored on an error when Adorno mishandled a bunt by Henry Rodriguez, tried to catch the runner at second base and instead hurled the ball into the outfield.

Torres’ towering triple in the fifth scored three runs and gave the Trojans all the momentum they needed to crawl out with a win.

BIGGEST SURPRISE: The Trojans didn’t get any offense from superstar catcher Nelson Rodriguez. The junior went 0-3 with two strikeouts--but he saved the game with his defense.

Ferrer muffed a grounder at first to put a runner on to start the seventh and Poulis attempt to bunt the runner to second, but instead popped the ball up. Rodriguez caught it then doubled up the runner at first.

“That play saved the game for us,” Carbone said.

Roman said it took all the pressure off.

“It was like, ‘Whoa,’” Roman said. “We just all turned to each other and knew we needed to just get a hit.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We came in and won the championship game (in the GW Holiday Tournament) 21-0,” Torres said. “Today we proved that even when we don’t play our best, we can play with any team in the city.”

UP NEXT: George Washington is schedule to play West 50th Street Campus Monday at 4 p.m. Beacon is scheduled to play Norman Thomas that day.

Baseball preview: GW ready for season without Mandl

April, 1, 2011
NEW YORK -- For nine non-league games and one league contest, George Washington baseball players hung long-time coach Steve Mandl’s jersey on a fence in their dugout. Mandl’s No. 32 is also hanging in the team’s locker room.

“It’s just a way to show guys, to show us and other teams that no matter what they do, they’re not gonna stop us,” said senior pitcher Jariel Cedeno. “They still have to play the Trojans. They still have to face us.”

That’s been the mantra at George Washington. Nothing is going to change for one of the most dominant baseball programs in New York City’s history.

On Feb. 15, the PSAL handed Mandl a one-year suspension for violating the league’s recruiting policy. Mandl, who has claimed innocence, and his attorneys later filed a claim against the PSAL, the board of education and Chancellor Cathleen Black seeking that his suspension be rescinded. In the meantime, assistant Nick Carbone is serving as interim manager.

It’s a heavy bat to carry. Mandl has logged more than 900 wins in 27 years including 26 division championships, two city titles and counts major league slugger Manny Ramirez among his alumni.

Carbone, 29, served as Mandl’s assistant coach for the past three years. He’s made it clear that he has no intention to pretend to he his Mandl. But “we’re going to do things as if Coach Mandl were here,” he said.

Carbone comes from a coaching family. His father, Gerry, is a longtime coach at Torrington High in Connecticut, where Carbone played in high school and who the Trojans play Saturday. Carbone went to play outfielder at Manhattan College. He was an assistant at Riverdale Country School for three years before taking a job as a history teacher at GW.

“I don’t know if I had the courage to ask Coach to be a part of his staff,” Carbone said. “I guess intimidated would be the word. It’s just that, a guy with that presence and that reputation and a team with that reputation, you’re asking yourself, ‘Does he want an assistant? Does he need an assistant?”

Then he realized that if he ever wanted to coach baseball again, he’d have to choke up on his bat and take a swing. It took him three years to build the nerve to talk to Mandl about joining his staff.

“I’m glad I did,” Carbone said. “It’s been incredible.”

The alleged claim against Mandl is that he helped orchestrate a transfer of a player from Lehman in the Bronx. According to the notice of claim, the unnamed student was denied a geographic and safety transfer before being allowed a medical transfer and enrolling at GW in 2009.

Mandl’s suit claims that the league failed to conduct an adequate investigation and that claims by Lehman coach Adam Droz that Mandl recruited Sanchez, are false.

“I know in my heart the allegations are false,” Carbone said. “I think that will come out over time. I think the truth will surface. But at the same time, we got to keep things going. The kids need to play. We’ve got a tradition to uphold. The bottom line is baseball is baseball.”

No one on the team claimed that the suspension or impending lawsuit has become a distraction. The team has star juniors in Sanchez and catcher Nelson Rodriguez, a .524 hitter last year, who was named to Team USA. Sanchez has tremendous speed at centerfield.

Carbone doesn’t expect anything less of them than Mandl would. In fact, Carbone seems more impressed with the kids’ poise.

“It feels a little different,” Rodriguez said. “But it’s still the same thing. It’s still baseball.”

The players still see and speak to Mandl, who is a gym teacher at George Washington, but they aren’t lamenting the situation. It’s simply given the team a giant chip on the shoulder.

“I look at it like they took our coach away but, at the end of the day, we’re on the field,” Cedeno said. “We are the ones that play. We are the ones that determine what our future is. Losing a great coach doesn’t mean the whole time has to lose. It’s just going to give us the motivation to go out there and play.”