Crazy was the word that kept coming up in conversation with Riverdale/Kingsbridge head baseball coach John Reingold. Considering what his Tigers went through last week, it was as good a word as any.
RKA entered the final week of the regular season needing a couple of wins in order to land a spot in the upcoming Public School Athletic League playoffs. And with two of the four scheduled games featuring matchups with first-place Evander, and another with a feisty team from IN-Tech High School, the Tigers were sure to have their hands full.
“We had two games against Evander which was tough enough, but we also had to play IN-Tech, which was playing much better lately,” Reingold said. “We had another game against a Truman team that (had) nothing to lose.”
The week got off to a bumpy start when RKA dropped its first game against IN-Tech, 8-7, when a Tigers rally fell short in the seventh inning. That loss only made the rest of the week all the more stressful for RKA.
And that stress level hit its peak against a Truman team that had just two wins all season, but who led RKA by two runs as the Tigers came to bat in the final inning. But a three-run rally by RKA in the seventh inning, led by RBI base hits by Jacob Auerbach and Stiven Mendez, saved the Tigers season as they pulled out a dramatic 4-3 victory.
“That was some comeback we had there,” Reingold said. “A walk-off win, and we needed it badly. It was crazy.”
But the big test of the week came when the Tigers went head-to-head with division-leading Evander, which had already clinched the Bronx AA West Division crown and was looking to fatten up its resume for the postseason.
This is where crazy comes in again.
After Evander got to RKA starter Healy Tureski for three runs in the top of the first inning, RKA responded with 10 runs of its own in the bottom of the frame, and it looked like RKA’s playoff spot was in the bag, right?
Not quite yet.
Evander proceeded to score seven times in the top of the second inning to knot the game at 10-10. Crazy indeed.
RKA, however, scored a run in the bottom of the second, added another in the third and plated a pair of runs in the fourth to eventually pull out a 14-11 victory to finally secure a spot in the PSAL postseason. Both Jacob Auerbach and Josh Kenny had three RBIs in the playoff-clinching victory, with Julio Paca and Richard Gonzalez adding two RBIs apiece.
In all the Tigers recorded 11 hits and nine walks in the game against an Evander team that was the team to beat in the Bronx AA West Division all season and is expected to make a deep run in the playoffs, which begin this week.
“It was just a crazy week,” Reingold said. “The walk-off against Truman and then scoring 14 runs against Evander. Who would have thought we’d do that? And then when we’re up 10-3 to start the game we’re feeling pretty good about ourselves, and then boom, they score seven in the second to tie us. But we didn’t quit. We hung in there and managed to pull out the win.”
The Tigers, who lost a rematch with Evander 5-2 in what amounted to a meaningless game Saturday afternoon, finished the regular season with an 8-8 record and will now face an opponent to be determined in their playoff opener this week.