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Bonnies survive mistakes to advance in LIBA playoffs

It was a stunning display of defensive miscues, but Herbert Cruz wasn’t surprised. After all, the Brooklyn Bonnies coach gave his team nearly a week off after a second-place finish at the AABC Connie Mack Regional in South Troy, N.Y.

“I expected that today, but from here on in it’s just going to pick up,” the Brooklyn Bonnies coach said.

The Bonnies had six errors and the pitching staff walked five and hit two batters. Yet the team still defeated the Astoria Crusaders, 10-8, in a Long Island Baseball Association playoff game at Monsignor McClancy on Tuesday.

“Some of us were lackadaisical at times, a bit lazy but we got out of it and found a way to win,” Bonnies starting pitcher Kacseim Graham said. “Our bats make up for a lot of our errors.”

Leading the charge was Stan Simmons, a rising senior at Telecommunications. The centerfielder was 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs.

“When I first got here, I was taking a few swings with the whiffle balls and after my first swing, I just felt good today,” Simmons said.

Graham, who Cruz said hit 91 mph on the radar gun at the Connie Mack tournament, struck out four of the first five Astoria batters he faced. The Albany-bound hurler out of Bishop Ford said he is trying to make the most out of what might be his last summer with the Bonnies.

“As of right now, this could be it for me,” he said. “I want to go out with a bang.”

His teammates made plenty of noise with their wood bats Tuesday. The Crusaders tied the game at 2 in the third inning, capitalizing on three Brooklyn errors, but the Bonnies responded right way and Louie Mastrandrea drove in a pair of runs in a four-run fourth to regain the lead.

“You want to have some pressure on the other team and when we tied it up 2-2, I really thought they were going to feel a little pressure,” Crusaders coach Gene McConnell said. “Then, right away they scored four runs and that takes the pressure right off.”

The Bonnies tacked on four more runs in the top of the seventh inning to take a commanding 10-2 lead. Mastrandrea, who had a team-best 1.80 earned run average for Bishop Ford in the spring, was wild and Astoria scored six runs in the bottom of the inning, but it’s rally fell just short.

Brooklyn advances into the second round, which is expected to be played Wednesday afternoon. The winner will play for the championship Sunday at Preller Field in Queens.

“We play with any team in this league,” Cruz said. “It just depends on what their mood is that day.”

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