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Queen of Peace Athletic Association recovers from fire damage

When Coach Eddie Cordero visited Vleigh Park Field in Kew Garden Hills last month ahead of the start of another baseball season for the Queen of Peace Athletic Association (QOPAA), he was dumbfounded at what he came across.

To his dismay, all of the league’s equipment had been burned and badly damaged inside a metal shed along the third base line of their home field at Judge Moses Weinstein Playground.

Among the damaged and charred outdoor maintenance equipment were three sets of rubber bases, liners and measuring tape, rakes, shovels and more inside the metal cage that has been protecting the equipment for well over four decades.

“I was shocked and upset,” Cordero, the parish athletic representative, said .

Coach Eddie and Melissa Grasso, treasurer of QOPAA, agree that vandalism has been dealt with in the past, but nothing to this extreme.

“It’s kind of sad,” Cordero said. “I’ve had family members playing here since 1983 and I started coaching in 1993.”

With basketball season being delayed due to COVID, baseball season was pushed back as well. Normally, Cordero says he’s preparing for baseball season in early February, but this year’s delay meant that he was simultaneously preparing for playoff basketball games and the start of baseball season on the same weekend.

A GoFundMe was created for donations to be made for the league’s equipment, with over $2,200 collected so far.

Cordero has also received a $2,500 grant from the Walter Kaner Children’s Foundation, a local nonprofit, to go towards league expenses.

With a delayed start –– just like the major leagues –– and now having to purchase new field equipment, Cordero says it’s been a difficult past two seasons of youth baseball.

“Last year, right in the middle of Covid in the springtime was tougher,” he added. “But people are starting to loosen the reins and feel a little more comfortable.”

The Queen of Peace school, formerly teaching grades K-8 in Flushing on 77th Road, closed in 2006. Cordero added that since the school closed some 16-years-ago, it’s been a more difficult task to get kids to sign up for the league.

At its peak, the league had around a dozen teams, some instructional and some travel teams, Cordero says. This year, a total of 6 teams (3 instructional and 3 travel) are part of the league.

Alumni of the league also includes Kyle O’Quinn, a Queens native who went on to play professional basketball for the New York Knicks, and relatives of Jose Alvarado, another NBA player, also participate in the league as coaches and players.

Having moved to the neighborhood in 1978, Cordero has seen three generations of his family compete or coach in the league. The all-volunteer QOPAA is part of the non-denominational Catholic Youth Organization. He says the league revolves around building sportsmanship, and keeping kids active.

A father of six, Cordero says his nieces and nephews all participate in the program.

“I’m still hanging in there because I have a three-year-old granddaughter who I’m hoping to coach when she gets eligible to play.”

To donate to the league, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/queen-of-peace-athletic-association-baseball

St. John’s ends season on a high note

The St. John’s baseball team used a six-run second inning to end the season on a high note, taking down Villanova, 6-1, on Saturday afternoon at Jack Kaiser Stadium on the Queens campus.
Tyler Roche tossed what was arguably the best outing of his young St. John’s career, allowing just one unearned run over 6.0 innings of work to pick up his first collegiate win.
He scattered three hits and five walks while striking out eight, a season high. The freshman from the Bronx lowered his ERA to 3.44 on the season and made it three straight appearances at home (16.2 IP) without an earned run to end the campaign.
Joe Joe Rodriguez threw a scoreless seventh before Ethan Routzahn struck out three over a pair of one-hit innings.
Following his Sunday performance, Routzahn closed the campaign with a 1.19 ERA, the lowest full-season ERA by a St. John’s pitcher since Thomas Hackimer turned in a 1.17 effort before being selected in the fourth round of the 2016 MLB Draft.
Marty Higgins wrapped a stellar redshirt freshman season by going 3-for-4 with a run scored, his fourth game of the year with three of more hits. Higgins closes the campaign with a team-high .333 batting average.
Justin Folz went yard for a team-high fourth time while Carson Bartels wrapped his collegiate career with a with a two-RBI performance.
David Glancy and Colin Wetterau added singles for St. John’s (19-21, 10-16 Big East).
After the Johnnies went down 1-2-3 in the first, Folz led off the second with a blast off the batter’s eye in center, putting the Red Storm ahead 1-0 in the early going.
With the bases loaded and two outs later in the inning, Bartels hit a slow grounder up the middle that looked like it would be easily picked up by the second baseman for the last out of the inning.
Instead, the ball ricocheted off the bag, shot into right field and allowed a pair of runs to score, pushing the St. John’s lead to 3-0. The Wildcats’ bad luck didn’t end there, as two errors by freshman shortstop Cameron Hassert allowed three more runs to score and gave St. John’s a 6-0 lead after two.
Villanova (21-14, 9-12 Big East) got on the board in the top of the fourth, as Hassert singled to center, advanced to third on an error and scored on a wild pitch.
St. John’s wraps up the spring with a record of 19-21, marking just the third time since World War II that the Red Storm has endured a losing season.

Queens College Knights make All-ECC teams

Four Queens College Knights were named to the East Coast Conference All-Conference team.
Freshmen first basemen Reed Hoskins earned a First Team selection. Freshmen outfielder Andrew Smith, sophomore left-handed pitcher Liam Pulsipher, and sophomore left-handed pitcher Dean Fazah made the Second Team.
Hoskins is the second freshmen for the Knights to earn First Team honors. He started in 24 games and in 77 at-bats went on to lead the Knights in batting average (.351), doubles (7), total bases (41), hits (27) and triples (2).
On the season, Hoskins was awarded Rookie of the Week honors in the last week of the regular season.
“Reed was a big part of our success this season,” said coach Chris Reardon. “He transitioned into a new role and excelled at first base and was a mainstay in the starting lineup while batting in the middle of the order for us.”
Smith was a consistent performer in his first year as a Knights as he appeared and started in 21 games either in right field or as the designated hitter in the starting lineup.
He ranked among the top five leaders in several categories, and he produced eight multi-hit performances on the year.
One of two pitchers to be named all-conference for the Knights, Pulsipher was a pillar in the starting rotation. Starting seven games, he produced a 3-2 record pitching 38.2 innings with a second-best ERA of 3.26, with opponents batting only .196 against the lefty.
Among the Knights pitching rotation, he ranks second in strikeout (40), while tied for eighth among conference pitchers.
Nationally he is ranked 42nd in Hits Allowed Per Nine Innings (6.12).
He opened the season with a win pitching 5.0 IP, allowing 4 hits, ER, and struck out five in the Knights 7-4 win over the Cougars.
On April 10, he produced a complete-inning gem, as he shut out the D’Youville College Saints, allowing only three hits and striking out a career-high 12 batters.
Fazah showed his experience throughout the season as one of the backbones in the Knights pitching rotation.
On the season, he appeared in eight games and made four starts to finish the regular season with a 3-1 record. He pitched 32.0 innings, leading the Knights in strikeouts (42) with an ERA of 3.94. He held opponents to a .260 batting average.
Nationally he ranked 41st in Strikeouts Per Nine Inning (12.49).
“In his first year with us Dean showed us his versatility and value throughout the season,” said Reardon. “He could be a spot starter as well as being a relief pitcher out of the bullpen.”

St. Joe’s sends off seniors

Senior Kevin Reyes went 4-for-4 at the plate and scored a run while Anthony Hernandez went 4-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored, however, the St. Joseph’s College (Brooklyn) baseball team dropped the first game of Sunday’s twin bill to SUNY Maritime College, 7-5.
Joining Reyes and Hernandez with multi-hit games were Floral Park Memorial product Chris Leary and Nick Tapio, who both hit doubles and recorded an RBI each. Louis Lombardi also drove in a pair of runs.
Reyes would go 2-for-3 with a pair of runs scored in the nightcap while Leary drove home both runs for the Bears (2-20, 1-14 Skyline) as the Privateers (10-5, 7-2) took the 14-2 win.
Along with Reyes, SJC honored their six graduating seniors from Gregg Alfano Field: C.J. Bunnicelli, Darius Cadle, William DeLuca, Nicholas Hernandez, and Maspeth native Matthew Rienzi. All six seniors would see action on Sunday.
In game one, the Privateers took an early 2-0 lead in the first thanks to a double that found the left-center field gap. Reyes’ leadoff double began the bottom half of the inning, scoring on Leary’s single to put the Bears on the board.
Hernandez followed that up with a single up the middle before he and Leary scored on a two-bagger by Lombardi; giving the Bears a 3-2 edge.
Vasilios Vafakos drew the game even at three with a single in the away half of the second. The freshman outfielder batted in the go-ahead run on a sac fly in the fourth, 4-3.
Leary doubled to begin the fifth. Hernandez blooped a single over the head of the Maritime first baseman and down the right-field line to once again tie the game, this time at four apiece.
It remained knotted until the eighth, when Danny Green’s RBI single gave the Privateers the lead at 5-4. Bunnicelli was pulled after 7.1 innings, allowing three earned runs and settling for the loss.
In the nightcap, a combination of passed balls and wild pitches plated Vafakos for the opening run of the game in the first, adding a couple more later in the frame.
As was the case in game one, Reyes led off the Bears’ half of the first with a double and scored on Leary’s single up the middle, grabbing a run back at 3-1.
Maritime saw their three-run lead restored in the second, but the Bears once again cut the deficit to two in the third with Leary bringing Reyes home, this time via a sac bunt, 4-2.
The Privateers further distanced themselves by scoring in each of the final four innings, headlined by a pair of doubles in that stretch and a seventh-inning homer, to win the non-conference game 14-2 and sweep the series from SJC.
DeLuca started the game on the mound for the Bears, tossing an inning and being dealt the loss. Rienzi played his 45th and final game in a Bears uniform, extending the program record for appearances by a pitcher, coming on for DeLuca in the second.
It was followed up by Cadle’s longest outing of the season, pitching 2.2 innings in relief and striking out three.
The seventh inning saw Reyes fan a pair in his first-ever appearance on the bump and Bunnicelli, entering as a pinch hitter, notching his first collegiate hit in the bottom of the inning.

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