The Channel View High School Dolphins’ storybook season could have ended all wrong.
Tied at 5-5 apiece in the final inning against Bronx High School of Science Wolverines at the PSAL division B championship game on Thursday, Dolphins pitcher Marvin Hernandez came in to relieve starting pitcher Kely Aponte, who just gave up two runs.
With one out and the winning run at third base, Hernandez got his first batter to hit a fly ball to center.
Centerfielder Antonio Moccia made the catch, and then fired a canon to home plate, which catcher Joseph Calandra caught and tagged the runner in time to save the game.
“After it hit the grass I knew I had it,” Calandra said about the play. “I was just worried about holding on to it.”
The game went to extra innings, until the ninth inning. While the bases were loaded, the wolverines walked Sergio Galdamez and two batters later David Polanco smacked a double to give the Dolphins a 7-5 victory and the school’s first baseball championship.
The win capped a magical run for the boys from the Rockaways.
Just a few years ago, former Mets prospect head coach John Mangieri, who has played 10 years professionally including a stint with the Italian national team in the World Baseball Classic, came to Channel View and met a group of enthusiastic players lacking equipment.
As coach, he whipped the team into shape, and transformed them to a perennial Queens powerhouse in the B conference. But the Dolphins came up short consecutive years in the playoffs.
“When I first took the job four years ago, we literary had kids saying coach I need a glove and showing up to practice in jeans,” Mangieri said. “Talk about a total 360.”