A year after Bronx Science saw its season come to a close in a playoff loss to Port Richmond, the Wolverines had a chance to return the favor. And they did it in a big way.
The Wolverines got a clutch three-run homer from Anna Manger in the third inning, then used a six-run sixth inning as Bronx Science toppled Port Richmond 14-4 in a “mercy rule” game at Harris Field. It was the first round in the Public School Athletic League softball playoffs, and Bronx Science made its mark early by knocking off the Raiders, the league’s defending champions.
“This is a big win for us,” Science head coach Mike Fisher said. “We know that they, like we, graduated important players from last year. That’s just high school and college ball. They’re always going to be fluid. So we changed the kind of team we are. We pitch nicely, but it’s not dominant. What we do really well is we club the ball, we run the bases, and we field a solid game. We play a very well-rounded game.”
For a team that graduated five starters off last season’s squad, this might have been the sweetest victory of the season.
“It was so exciting and it really shows that we came together as a team,” said senior captain Brett Zakheim. “We were able to execute. I’m really proud of the team.”
Port Richmond jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, but Science answered with a pair of runs in their half of the inning on singles by Sam Pokorny and Jessica Muller.
The Raiders jumped ahead again in the second with a pair of runs for a 3-2 lead, but that’s when those bats Fisher referred to earlier started coming alive.
Science plated three runs in the third on Manger’s opposite-field, three-run blast, and added three more in the fourth courtesy of a Port Richmond error and two wild pitches for an 8-3 lead.
The Wolverines pushed across another run in the fifth on Pokorny’s second RBI single of the game before erupting for six runs in the sixth, with three more Port Richmond wild pitches helping the Science cause.
“They knew this team was the defending champs but they also knew that they were good,” Fisher said.
“They were confident. I didn’t have to tell them they were good. They knew it, and they went out and played like it.”
Maybe none better than Pokorny, Science’s freshman catcher, who not only knocked in a pair of runs, but also threw out three would-be base stealers in the third inning. Port Richmond never attempted a steal the rest of the game.
“That’s pretty rare, getting three in one inning,” Fisher said. “Sam loves to come up throwing, the kid enjoys throwing the ball. She just took care of business.”
Just doing her job, according to Pokorny.
“We needed outs, so when I saw them going, I just threw the ball,” she said said. “It gave us momentum in the game.”
Zakheim wasn’t surprised by Pokorny’s laser-like throws to cut down Raiders’ runners.
“She’s been doing that all season, and it’s really helped us so much,” the captain said. “She’s been able to shut down the other team’s base running, which is huge.”
One other major contributor to the Science victory was Manger, who was an unlikely power source from the No. 9 hole in the lineup.
“Anna came up big,” Fisher said. “She’s been working very hard all year. She doesn’t play a whole lot, but she’s always working hard. She poked a strong one right down the (left field) line and they couldn’t catch up with it. As she ran around the bases, I saw her smiling as she approached third base, and I said ‘Go,’ and her smile got even bigger.”
Manger was a little stunned at her big hit as well.
“That was pretty surprising,” Manger said. “It was the perfect spot. I expect it to go there because I always hit late. But it feels great.”
With the win, Bronx Science will move on to face Fort Hamilton in a second-round game.
“I think we’re playing the best we have all season,” Zakheim said. “The pitching is under control, we’re hitting better, and we’re making less errors, so I think we’re playing better than we have all year.”