Metro comes up short, Scholars clinch title in small-school finals

The Metropolitan Campus baseball team came up just one win shy of a city title, but the Knights’ historic run was a silver lining for the squad.
Photo by Ian Freed
By Laura Amato

It wasn’t the perfect finish, but the Metropolitan Campus baseball team was still proud of everything it accomplished this spring.

The Knights fell 9-5 to South Bronx in the PSAL “A” championship last Sunday, the only loss of the season for the squad. It was a heartbreaking defeat, but Metro is determined to find the positives in the performance.

“I know it’s tough today, but the fact that it hurts means you care and that’s a good thing,” head coach Ian Freed said. “You should feel upset, but at the same time 19-1 is something that should definitely be celebrated.”

Metro nearly staged a dramatic come-from-behind victory in the title tilt. The Knights were down 9-2 heading into the seventh inning, but started to rally, finding a rhythm at the plate and cutting into the South Bronx lead.

The squad actually had the tying run on deck with runners on second and third and no one out, but Metros’ six, seven and eight hitters were shut down in order, putting an end to the comeback.

The comeback made the loss sting just a bit more, but Freed was quick to point out that Metro developed a habit of late-game dramatics this season and he was hardly surprised to see his players find that extra push down the stretch.

“It’s a testament to them,” Freed said. “We’d been out of some games before and these kids battled back. We had five seniors [who] really wanted this. They weren’t going to give up.”

The Knights were frustrated with coming up short, but even the seniors know they’ve helped build something special at Metro this spring. Now, the goal isn’t just to get back to a city championship, it’s to bring back a title.

As far as this team is concerned, this year’s finish was only the beginning.

“The buzz in the school was something that was really exciting for me to see,” Freed said. “You know, it’s easy to get kids to a basketball game or volleyball game, but for baseball when we’re playing far away from the building, you’ve really got to be building something special for people to go out of their way. I’m four years into this now and I think we’re definitely on the right track.”

Metropolitan Campus wasn’t the only Queens school to reach the city championship in the small-school division.

The Scholars Academy softball team also reached the final last Friday, clinching the “B” title with a 7-6 victory over John F. Kennedy.

“I just felt really proud for them because we’d been undefeated all season and I knew at that point, anything shy of a championship was going to be disappointing,” said Scholars coach Rebecca Henck. “Other than be hard-working, good athletes, they’re the nicest group of kids, so it was nice to see them do this.”

The Lady Seawolves wrapped up a perfect season, notching their first championship since 2014 in dramatic fashion – on Amanda Nolan’s game-winning hit to center in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Third baseman Gabriella Cabrera crossed home on the hit, lifting the Lady Seawolves to a victory and wrapping a season that was nothing short of picture-perfect.

“We learned that [comeback mentality] in the playoffs because in the regular season we beat everyone by quite a lot,” Henck said. “They were very persistent and they didn’t give up. The few times that they were in a tough spot, they really pulled through big time.”

Scholars jumped out to an early lead, but JFK plated four runs in the top of the fifth, taking a 6-3 cushion and setting the Lady Seawolves back on their heels. The squad responded in the bottom of the frame and kept JFK off the board down the stretch.

It was a dominant season for Scholars, but the championship was the cherry on top of it all, marking a historic finish that the squad is certain will help spark even more success.

“There’s a possibility that we might move up to the ‘A’ division, so that would be a big challenge,” Henck said. “We definitely want to do it though and the girls are capable of it. For me, as great as it was to win the championship, now, I feel personally, our next step is to see what we can do against the higher division.”

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