When the championship game was over and the Queens Vocational Tech Tigers had lost, head baseball coach Robert Schimenz gathered his team of teary-eyed teens.
He wasn’t angry, but wasn’t sad either.
He simply pointed above the dugout and said “Go say thank you to those fans,” referring to the more than 300 students, teachers and family members that traveled to MCU Park in Brooklyn and witnessed the team lose, 2-1, to South Bronx H.S. in the PSAL Division B baseball championship on June 8.
“Today was career day at the school, but the focus of the school was baseball and I like that,” Schimenz said, adding that the supporters behaved similarly in 2007 when the Queens school won the crown.
Although the Tigers clawed and growled, they couldn’t get past the blazing fastball and tricky curveball of South Bronx Phoenix pitcher Kevin Victoriano, who hurled a complete game with 11 strikeouts, while allowing just two hits.
“He’s [Victoriano] a great pitcher and he’s going to make it far in life if he continues playing baseball,” Queens Vocational infielder Jose Monegro said.
On the other hand, Queens’ starting pitcher Daniel Corona almost matched Victoriano, collecting seven strikeouts in six innings while allowing six hits.
“Danny [Corona] pitched great. He pitched better than usual,” Schimenz said of his starting pitcher. “His pitch count was low and he didn’t put a lot of guys on.”
Corona ran into trouble in the bottom of the third when he allowed two runs off back-to-back doubles and a triple by Victoriano.
Victoriano, who had a shutout through the fifth frame, was good enough to protect the lead for the rest of the game.
“It was mostly striking out to outside pitches,” senior Queens catcher Jason Perez said. “We really weren’t in the zone at the plate.”
But in the sixth, the Tigers showed their teeth.
With the bases empty, Monegro smacked a double deep to center that flew over the Bronx outfielders and landed just in front the warning track.
After Monegro moved to third base on a ground out, Victoriano threw a wild pitch high over the catcher’s reach, allowing Monegro to score the only run for the Tigers.
“I was excited and trying to get my team momentum,” he said about scoring. “But unfortunately we came up short.”
Victoriano walked the next batter, but recovered and got the two remaining outs to end the inning.
The dominant pitcher came back after a quiet sixth inning by the Phoenix and finished the game with a 1-2-3 inning, striking out the final batter.
Despite the loss, Queens fans clapped and cheered for each Tigers player during the ensuing ceremony as his name was called to receive a silver medal.
“It was a long, tiring season that there was so much positive in,” Schimenz said. “I’m glad they [the Tigers] got here. I would’ve liked to have seen them win because they’re dynamite baseball players.”