Barreto shoulders the load for Central

Posted: May 21, 2014

WIELDING 32 inches and 29 ounces of alloy-coated bat in his hands, Tyler Barreto stepped to the plate yesterday against Olney Charter, Central High's Class AAAA Public League playoff opponent.

Oh, how far he's come.

Last year, the junior designated hitter struggled to control 1-pound weights while rehabbing from a torn labrum in his right shoulder, which has kept him from his natural position as starting catcher this season.

And although he still isn't behind the plate, there is certainly no problem with his swing while standing at it.

Barreto's bases-loaded single into the gap in right-centerfield scored half of the host Lancers' runs in a four-run first inning that set the table for a 6-3 victory over the previously unbeaten Trojans from Division B.

Afterward, the Northeast resident (Winchester Park) talked about his journey back to the diamond.

"It honestly feels amazing [now]," he said. "I won't lie, it's still frustrating when you're not 100 percent, but compared to where I was when I first came out of surgery, I feel better than I have in a long time.

"It's been a long road back, but I'm getting there," he said. "It's hard to get some momentum when you're sitting there and coming off the bench, but I'm just doing my part. And - the team - that's what it's really all about."

The Division A Lancers (9-4) only notched four hits, but Olney helped Central's cause with six errors. Plus, Central ace righthander Anthony DeVito kept the Trojans in check, scattering six hits and striking out 10 in seven innings.

"Anthony DeVito pitched phenomenally," said Barreto, a typical battery mate. "It was a great game for all of us, but especially 'Vito.' Fantastic pitching!"

It didn't start that way.

Olney senior Yeudy Castro sent DeVito's second pitch of the game deep into right-center where it plunked off the painted portion of the concrete wall boasting the 340-foot sign. However, Castro settled for a single, in part, because the ball reached the wall quickly and caromed right to a fielder.

DeVito rebounded almost immediately, inducing a 6-4-3 doubleplay and then a strikeout to end the inning. Senior Ray Cedano (1-for-3) eventually drove in a pair for the Trojans. Sophomore starter Joseph Gomez took the loss.

"This was a great win for us," Barreto said. "Last year, they knocked us out of the playoffs. It was a really tough loss for us. We have the seniors coming back this year and we really want to win the chip for them."

Senior Louis Lobron (1-for-4) and sophomore Kyle Rosenberg (0-for-1, suicide squeeze) drove in a run apiece for Central, which will face George Washington tomorrow in the next round.

Being back in the playoff mix is a welcome challenge for Barreto, who tore his labrum early last season while diving for a fly ball. He played the rest of the season with the injury.

"I eat, sleep and dream about baseball," he said. "That's just how it's been since I was a little kid. It's hard to come back from an injury. It's been a long road and I have no complaints."

Later, he added: "It just feels great to be back on the field and hitting, being with the guys."

It also seems the ordeal has afforded him perspective. Just a junior, he is already plotting a course toward sports medicine (or finance).

"It's very important that there's somebody there for kids when they get hurt, because for some kids, baseball is all they know," he said. "It's a very grueling task when you're trying to come back. It's hard to stay positive . . . it's hard when that one thing [you love] just isn't there anymore. And for a lot of kids they need an outlet to get their anger out and there's no place better than a baseball field."

Barreto also said his mother Sheryl helped him through the tough times, as did his father, Javier, a former all-city outfielder for North Catholic.

"I know it sounds corny, but I love my mom," he said. "She's done so much for me and she's the reason I keep playing, because every at-bat is for her. She's been there when nobody else has."

Just a junior, Barreto still has time to get healthy and realize his goal.

"It's always been my dream to play past high school," he said. "It's been a rough year, but I'm hoping to continue playing whether it's junior college or hopefully going D-1 somewhere - that's the dream."

On Twitter: @AceCarterDN

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