South Bronx knocks off Washington Irving
Jose Soriano described his Sunday afternoon as one of the wildest he has ever played.
The South Bronx first baseman was involved in a wacky PSAL Class B semifinal game against Washington Irving at Newtown Field, a three-hour plus affair that had four lead changes, defensive miscues and clutch hits by both squads.
Soriano, who began the day as the Phoenix starting pitcher, had also experienced a sharp pain in his right shoulder in the top of the second inning. The senior was removed from the mound after hitting the first two batters, but would not hear of departing the field for good as he moved to play first base.
“My shoulder popped out,” Soriano said. “But one of my teammates came in and popped it back in place. When I picked it up, it hurts. I didn’t even know who popped it back, I was crying,”
But in extra innings Soriano continued this year’s version of the Rise of the Phoenix, delivering a run-scoring single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth to lift No. 2 seed South Bronx to a 9-8 win over Washington Irving.
South Bronx improved to 20-0 and can finish off a perfect season in the PSAL Class B title game Friday at 4 p.m. against third-seeded Queens Vocational. The game will be held at MCU Park.
The Phoenix got off to a good start to open the eighth inning as Mothaury Guzman reached on a two-base error. Bulldogs reliever Miguel Rivera-Sanchez walked Danauris Baez, who recorded the win in 2-1/3 innings of relief, and Jose Victoriano each walked to load the bases with one out.
Soriano told himself that all he had to do was drive the ball into the outfield. He did just enough to bloop his second hit of the day – and third RBI – over the outstretched glove of third baseman Angeuris Morales into left field to begin the celebrations.
“A couple of times today we was down, but we kept our heads up,” Soriano said. “This was our goal since March 1 started for us and luckily we got the win.”
It was just last year that the Phoenix stars were plying their trade in PSAL ‘A’, advancing to the quarterfinals where Tottenville beat them.
However before the academic year started, three schools within the South Bronx campus moved to occupy the brand new Mott Haven Campus on the Grand Concourse, just blocks from Yankee Stadium.
Soriano and Baez had attended schools which had decided to remain in the South Bronx building. They were saddened not to join their now former teammates who were now at Mott Haven.
“We played to a high level last year and they wanted to play with their team from last year and it is out of my control,” said longtime Phoenix coach Frank Colon. “It happened to the basketball team also and a precedent was set,” Colon said.
Soriano, along with fellow hitters/pitchers Baez and Victoriano, now became the core veterans of the Phoenix who all eagerly agreed to fulfill Colon’s plan to push for a league title.
“I said at the beginning of the year, we got good players who know how to play. Our aim is to go all the way,” Colon said. “For them, there will be nothing satisfying but to go all the way. I never expected in my wildest dreams this would happen,”
Fifth-seeded Washington Irving (16-4), which was beaten by John Bowne in last year’s PSAL Class B semifinals, threatened to take the lead in the seventh. Colon had lifted pitcher Ramon Rodriguez in the sixth inning for Baez, the team’s shortstop whose experience on the mound was limited to three innings during the regular season.
Soriano fired a bullet to Victoriano at home plate to tag out Matthew Sola-Baker for the second out. The bases were loaded when Baez induced Mike Flores into a popup which the pitcher caught to end the inning and keep the game tied at 8-all.
“I was nervous,” Baez said. “This was on my mind, I’m not going to let him score. They can hit a bomb, but I’m not going to walk him. All I was thinking was strikes, strikes, strikes.”
The Phoenix will be pitching their ace Victoriano, who is a combined 10-0 in the regular season and the playoffs, in the title game. Colon says his team may not have played as crisply as he wanted to, but they made up for their sloppy play with plenty of heart and soul.
“I’ll take the W instead of the perfect L,” Colon said. “I’ll take this crazy game that took forever.”
Queens Vocational Tech 4, Transit Tech 2
Third-seeded Queens Vocational Tech (19-1) can thank senior Daniel Corona for earning the Tigers a berth to the PSAL Class B final at MCU Park.
The ace limited Transit Tech to two runs and three hits in six innings. Corona also had three hits and produced a run-scoring single in the fifth inning. Tigers catcher Jason Perez delivered a RBI single and Bryant Cartegena had two hits and three stolen bases.
Corona also made a sparkling defensive play in the final inning as he moved to left field and was relieved by Henry Alvarez. No. 15 Transit Tech (16-4) scored one run and had the bases loaded when Jacob Morillo lifted a fly ball to medium left field. Corona made the catch and delivered a line drive throw to Perez at the plate to tag out Edgar Arango for the game-ending double play.