Pavel Dzemianok / For the Boston Globe
When the ball bounced off the tip of Jamar Ventura’s glove in the fourth inning of the Boston City League championship game on Monday morning, the first thing that went through Boston English High’s junior right fielder was that his coach was "going to kill him." The second thought that crossed his mind was that his coach would be even more mad if he didn’t get the ball as quick as possible.
Thanks to Ventura’s hustle, the error only scored one run but it still gave Latin Academy a 3-1 lead. And to his surprise, his coach and teammates could not have been more supportive after he got back to the dugout.
“I was upset, it was a line drive and it was curving and I went in to get it and it bounced off my glove and after that I just ran to get the ball because if not [English High coach Modesto “Moe” Gomez] would’ve killed me again.
"They were telling me 'Forget about it, next inning, next ball you'll catch it.' Even my coach he didn’t yell at me. He just told me 'Next inning make up for it and I made up for it."
Ventura more than made up for the error in the fifth inning.
His two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the inning scored English’s third and fourth runs of a four-run rally and secured the 5-3 victory — the Blue & Blue’s third city championship since the tournament was reinstated in 2007.
“I just saw the ball coming and I swung,” Ventura said. “Once I saw it go through the fielders I was just happy, relieved I got a hit. ... It really felt good."
Gomez said the play epitomized what he has been preaching to his team all day.
“I told them all today we had to let it out today, we couldn’t make excuses,” Gomez said. “And that’s what [Ventura] did. He made the mistake and it didn’t matter and he had to get the ball and that’s what he did. When he came in I told him to ‘Forget about it. There’s nothing you can do about it now just come back the next play and that’s what he did.’
“He came up big. I’m glad that he stuck it out. He didn’t labor on it.”
Going into the fifth inning, Latin Academy pitcher Vincent Lopriore had only given up one hit and an unearned run. After Lopriore secured the first out of the inning, Frankely Gonzalez doubled to center field before four batters were walked and two runs scored to tie the game at 3-3.
Then, on a 3-and-2 count, Ventura single to left to score Wanderson Pinales and Jessey Valdez to take the 5-3 edge.
“Vince got a little rattled, walked a couple guys and was getting squeezed a little bit and just lost his composure for a second,” said Latin Academy senior shortstop and pitcher Sam Steeves, taking a break from fielder ground balls with his dad after the loss.
“That’s all it takes and they got the two runs.”
Gomez said it’s difficult for a high school athlete to put an error behind them and come up big at the plate, especially with as boisterous of a crowd that was at the city championships.
“That’s what I tell all of them, no matter what happens you still gotta keep going on,” Gomez said. “Things aren’t going to be easy in life and today was a big testament to that. We failed but we didn’t fail. We had to come back and keep playing.
"I’m glad he showed his toughness right there.”
Both Gomez and Ventura said the play and the victory gives them a huge amount of momentum going into their first-round state tournament game against Gloucester at 4 p.m. on Thursday at English High in the Division 4 North bracket.
“We’re just going to keep on winning and try not to lose and keep the momentum,” Ventura said. “We haven’t lost in a while so hopefully we will keep on winning. This will give us a boost up I think we have a chance to win if we keep on playing like this.”
Ventura is also happy that he has made his mark with the Blue & Blue (13-5), which also has players from New Mission High since they don't have their own team. Ventura said that might change next year when New Mission moves from their current school in Mission Hill into the old Hyde Park High building.
“It was a lot of pressure, I was really nervous," he said of his final at-bat. "I was just happy to make contact and once I saw it go over their heads everything just went away. I don’t know, I was so happy.
“I’m just happy to be able to win with the team that I started with.”
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