Things looked bleak for Bronx Science.
The Wolverines, who enjoyed a superlative regular season by going 12-0 and capturing the Bronx AA Division regular-season crown, were down two runs to Cardozo in the bottom of the seventh inning in their Public School Athletic League playoff game. And their season was hanging in the balance.
But junior Brett Zakheim wasn’t about to throw in the towel.
“It never really crossed my mind that we were going to lose,” Zakheim said. “I know it seemed like we were because we were coming from behind, but I knew we could come together as a team and do what we had to do to get the win.”
Seems all the Wolverines had to do in the last inning was simply put the ball in play as Cardozo’s defense imploded with three errors leading to three Bronx Science runs, coming back to stun the Judges 8-7 in a PSAL second-round playoff contest.
“This game was crazy,” Science head coach Tom Morris said afterward. “We had two botched double plays and three killer base-running mistakes in the game and still pulled it out. Crazy game.”
The victory was the second of the week and second of the postseason for the Wolverines, who had previously knocked off New Utrecht 5-2 in a first-round game. Maya Schuchert had two hits and two RBIs in that win while winning pitcher Anna Leidner fanned a dozen while allowing just two hits.
But just when it looked like the Wolverines’ playoff run was over, Cardozo handed Science a lifeline.
“I just reminded them that we had our best hitters coming up,” Morris said of the fateful final inning. “I told them don’t try to do too much, take things one at a time. Take a single, a walk is as good as a hit, to use the old cliché. Just put the ball in play and that’s what we did.”
Bronx Science looked to be on its way to the victory much earlier in the game when Zakheim drilled a two-run single in the bottom of the third inning to give the Wolverines a 4-2 lead. And with Leidner — about as money a pitcher as you’ll find — on the mound, prospects looked bright for Science.
“I knew they still had some fight in them and we had to play our best to win,” Zakheim said. “But with Anna on the mound and with the rest of the seniors on our team, I knew we could pull it out.”
Cardozo scored twice in the fourth and fifth innings and held a 6-5 lead before adding an insurance run in the seventh. But with their proverbial backs to the wall, Science pulled out the win, and is now faced with the prospect of traveling to Staten Island to take on powerhouse Port Richmond — the No. 1 seed in the PSAL playoffs — in the quarterfinals.
Senior catcher Alex Feeley screamed, “We get Port Richmond!” after the win, begging the question of whether that was a proclamation of confidence or an ‘oh no!’ moment.
“That was more of an ‘Oh no! We get Port Richmond,’” Morris said with a laugh. “We played them three years ago, so we know who they are and we know what they have — the best player in the city in Lily Russo. She’s a robot. She throws like 70 miles an hour.”
Yes, Port Richmond represents a daunting task for the Wolverines. But as Zakheim, ever the optimist said, sometimes you just got to believe.
“Everyone on the team makes fun of my positivity, but I think that’s what helped turn this game around because we all have to believe in ourselves,” she said. “I think we’ll get better at that as we go on because now we know we really have to play our best if we want to continue playing this season.”
It may take the perfect game to take down mighty Port Richmond, but Zakheim said these Wolverines will not bow down to anyone.
“We’ll give it our best shot,” Zakheim said. “They’re a very good team, but so are we. We’ve proved ourselves, and that’s all you can do — just play your best.”