By Brandon Mauk
Benjamin Cardozo was eager to get another crack at Construction and battled until dusk to get their payback.
After the Red Hawks handed the Judges their first loss of the season earlier in the week, host Cardozo beat Construction 5-4 on a walk-off double by Noah Cabrera with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning April 22. After a quiet afternoon, Cabrera got the winning hit with the game near suspension because of darkness.
“Noah Cabrera could be the best all-around player in the city. Not only is he a clutch player, but he plays all three middle infield spots,” Cardozo coach Ron Gorecki said. “He’s one of the five best middle infielders I’ve coached in 47 years.”
Devon Haberstrumpf hit a key two-run home run and also pitched three scoreless innings, while Alvin Melendez pitched out of a ninth-inning jam to get the victory.
“It was really huge for us to get this win,” Melendez said. “It really solidifies us as a team and really brought us together. Every other team is going to have a hard time playing with us from now on.”
Construction (7-4) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second on an RBI triple by Remington Almarante and a run-scoring single by Joshua Abbensetts. Cardozo got the run back in the bottom half on an RBI double by catcher Isaiah Mirabal, but Cardozo left seven runners on base in the first three innings.
Haberstrumpf rectified that in the fourth with an opposite-field two-run homer off Alexander Valdez to put Cardozo ahead 3-2. The game’s starting pitcher, Aldwin Corona, followed with an RBI single to give himself a two-run lead.
“We wanted to come out and beat these guys,” Haberstampf said. “With a 2-0 count I was looking for a fastball in the zone, missed it. I said if he throws it there again, I’m going to hit it out. I got that pitch again, momentum swing.”
Construction showed some resilience of their own, as Eddy Torres tied the score at 4-4 with a two-run single to chase Corona. Haberstrumpf went to the mound in the sixth and William Rodriguez also tossed three scoreless innings in relief for Construction.
“We thought it was going to be difficult to bounce back against that team. Once we did it showed that we were here to play, and we were going to make it a game,” Construction coach Marcus Ortiz said.
In the bottom of the seventh, Corona stole second and tried to score after Abbensetts threw into the outfield. Valdez, now in left, gunned him down at the plate to keep the score tied. Melendez came on to pitch in the ninth to get the biggest outs of the game with two men on. He got a groundball hit to Corona, who fired home to get the runner out from third, Melendez then started a 1-6-3 double play to end the threat.
“I’ll tell you, he came up clutch for me. He picked me up, that was huge,” said Haberstrumpf, who was responsible for the two runners.
With the sky starting to get dark, Cabrera ended the game with a scorching double to the gap in right-centerfield, scoring Christopher Moreno from first with two outs.
“Construction is a team to reckon with,” Gorecki said. “To beat this team, that group of kids, was fantastic. Our guys showed we had a little bit more of fight.”