By Stephen Zitolo
Benjamin Cardozo will not repeat as city champions.
The fifth-seeded Judges couldn’t do enough at the plate to complement a dominating pitching performance by senior ace Demitri Sanchez. Cardozo ultimately fell 2-1 in nine innings to fourth-seeded host James Madison in the PSAL Class AAA baseball quarterfinals May 26.
“It was a great game. We tried to repeat,” Cardozo head coach Ronald Gorecki said. “We went as far as we could go. It was a great all-around game.”
Sanchez was impressive. He pitched 8 1/3 innings, giving up only two runs on four hits. But the Cardozo bats couldn’t back up his dominant performance, as they were only able to scrap together five hits and one run against Christopher Karnbach.
“I gave it everything,” Sanchez said. “It was my last high school game and I left it all out there.”
Added junior Noah Cabrera: “He leads by example and he pitched a hell of a game.”
Sanchez’s impressive outing was bested by Karnbach, who pitched all nine innings and even knocked in the game’s winning run in the bottom of the ninth.
“You have to take your hat off to the Madison pitcher,” Gorecki said. “He completed the ball game. He was a one-man wrecking crew.”
Cardozo’s bats would finally awaken in the top of the fifth inning. The Judges scrapped together three singles. The last one was a line drive up the middle by junior second baseman Noah Cabrera that scored sophomore catcher Michael Coletta that gave Cardozo (15-3) a 1-0 lead.
Madison (17-2) came back in the bottom of the sixth, as it played small ball to tie the score at 1-1 on a two-out single up the middle by catcher Richard Devita.
In the bottom of the seventh it looked as if Madison was set up nicely to win the game. Joseph Toledo hit a lazy fly ball to left center field that neither Ariel Paez nor Robert Garcia called for.
The ball dropped in between both and got past them. Toledo tried to stretch what should’ve been a double into a triple. Garcia fired in a strike to Cabrera, who made a perfect relay throw to junior third baseman Aldwin Corona to nail Toledo at third.
In the ninth Sanchez struggled to find the strike zone. He walked both Devita and Shawn James. Sacnhez was pulled from the game and Cardozo turned to sophomore Malik Miller. Karnbach was the first batter Miller faced and he hit a double to right center field and that ended the memorable game.
“It’s fantastic to play a game like this,” Gorecki said. “It’s better than a major-league game. It’s great to see two kids dueling on the mound and pitching their guts out.”