Rapid Reaction: PSAL SF: GW 5, Lehman 1

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.