Construction upsets Tottenville in PSAL Class ‘A’ championship

Photo by Ken Maldonado
By Elio Velez

A wild set of events helped Construction, in Woodhaven, realize its dream of winning the program’s first PSAL Class A softball city title.

The No. 2-seeded Red Hawks, three outs away from losing, scored three times off Tottenville’s ace Cheryl Lopez with help from a controversial call at the plate to rally from a two-run deficit in the top of the seventh inning.

Construction pitcher Britney Rodriguez then ran into trouble in the bottom of the frame, but proceeded to shut the door with two runners on to secure the crown with a thrilling 3-2 victory over two-time defending champion and top-seeded Tottenville at St. John’s University Sunday afternoon. The Red Hawks became the first Queens team to win since Francis Lewis in 2002.

“It feels really amazing to actually beat the top team out there,” Rodriguez said. “It feels amazing for us and the team.”

The rally started with a single by Rodriguez. Kailan Luciano was then walked and Amy Pirozek delivered a single to bring home Rodriguez to make it 2-1. An outfield error on the play allowed Luciano to go to third.

Then things got dicey.

Luciano was between third base and home when Nicole Ovelheira missed a sign at the plate for a bunt attempt with one out. Luciano chose to make a dash for the plate and Pirates catcher Nylah Ramirez ran Luciano up the line and threw to third. Luciano then broke for home.

Third baseman Stefanie Abolt threw back to Lopez, who was standing in front of the plate. Luciano slid hard and knocked the ball out of Lopez’s glove to tie the score at 2-2 for Construction (24-1).

“That was my idea,” Luciano said. “I was just going to barrel in. There was no other option.”

Lopez protested that Luciano used her shoulder to knock the ball free. That would have led to a call of interference and the runner being out at home. Instead, the home plate umpire ruled it was a legal play because Luciano made incidental contact with Lopez at home plate because she and the ball arrived at the same time.

“I saw she dropped the ball,” Luciano said. “I started tearing up and I couldn’t believe it.”

Construction, which had just one hit through six innings, took advantage of a second error in the frame with two outs. Linda McKernan reached safely as Tribuzio bobbled a ground ball that allowed Pirozek to score the go-ahead run. Abolt moved from first to third when starting third baseman Gabrielle Chiusano left early with a hand injury.

Trying to protect the lead, Rodriguez surrendered a single and hit a batter to put two runners on with one out in the bottom of the seventh. She buckled down to strike out Tribuzio and got Lopez to ground out to third base to begin the wild celebration.

“It shows a lot,” Rodriguez said. “It shows we are one of the best teams in New York. We worked hard from the beginning to the end.”

It was the second time this season Construction, which won the Class B title four years ago, rallied to beat the Pirates (23-2). Luciano hit a two-run walk-off homer in the Red Hawks’ 6-5 win April 19 to end Tottenville’s 117-game regular season winning streak. To do it again in the title game was even better.

“This is unbelievable. I’m speechless,” Construction Coach Marco Migliaccio said. “All the hard work we do and effort goes into this and to finish that in the top of the seventh. Last time we did it, it was unbelievable, and then to beat them in the bottom of the seventh is sweet.”

The game was scoreless going into the bottom of the fourth when Rodriguez gave up a booming two-run homer to shortstop Jillian Regan.

“From some reason I felt like even though we’re down 2-0 even in the top of the seventh,” Luciano said, “we knew we could do it.”

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