New management for Grand Street Campus’s baseball has improved the team — and the pitching of senior Emanuel Castellano.
First-year head coach Steve Martinez convinced Castellano to use his change up more to complement his fastball and curve. Now that he is attacking hitters more intelligently, the results were clear against Manhattan Center during pool play at the annual James Monroe baseball tournament last Monday.
“Today I just came in the game and I was in the zone,” Castellano said. “I cleared my mind and I was just going right after them. I was hitting my locations.”
He went on to dominate the Rams’ lineup. The 5-foot-7 Castellano struck out 12 batters in a complete game performance for Grand Street in a 7–2 victory over Manhattan Center at Field of Dreams in The Bronx.
He allowed just two hits over the first six innings and retired 14 straight batters heading into the seventh. He allowed two runs on three hits in the final frame, but struck out the side to end the game.
“I made sure today I switched everything up ,and I had them confused,” Castellano said.
There is no confusion about the talent on the Wolves team that lost in the Public School Athletic League Class AA semifinals last season — one year after winning the city title. Castellano is part of one of the best 1-2 pitching combinations in the city, along with fellow senior Alex Cuas. They sit atop a deep staff that includes Anthony Rosario, Jose Perez, Adaury Rosario, and Robert Donis.
The Grand Street lineup is still looking to make up for the loss of speedster Basil McDonald and power bat Santo Duran. Shortstop Aneudy DelaCruz, catcher Cesar Jimenez and designated hitter Anthony Rosario all return. DelaCruz was three-for-four with a run scored, and junior varsity call up Shawn Alicea, the third baseman, went 1 for 1 with a walk and two RBI.
“I’ve been struggling,” Alicea said. “I haven’t been aggressive, consistent. Today I stayed aggressive.”
Martinez has also been a little more forceful with the players than the team’s previous manager, according to Castellano. Martinez replaced his brother Melvin, who stepped down because of health issues. Melvin Martinez coached the Wolves for 18 seasons and Steve has been there for 14. The new headman has held his players more accountable than his laid-back brother, and Castellano can see the results in the team. “We’ve become stronger,” Castellano said. “He’s on us more. He’s very good at what he is doing right now.”
Grand Street is now 13–1, and what Steve Martinez hopes to do is make a group of hungry players champions again.
“They want to get that taste of 2012 again.” Martinez said. “We know we have a very good team.”