BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – Irvington began its defense of consecutive Briarcliff High School Varsity Baseball Booster Club Tournament championships with an extra inning walk-off on Wednesday against O’Neill.
Only it wasn’t a home run, base hit or even a walk. It was a walk-off error.
Senior captain Andy Silverhardt stepped to the plate with runners on first and second, one out and the game tied at five in the bottom of the eighth inning. He smacked a ground ball toward first and it appeared that the Raiders would record at least one out, but the throw was low to second base and rolled into the outfield.
The runner scored from second and Irvington (1-2) won its first game of the season.
Irvington Coach Gary Raimondo certainly did not expect the game to end on that play the way it did.
“I didn’t think they’d double (Andy) up. I really didn’t because he’s one of our quicker players,” Raimondo said. “I thought they’d get the one and I’m thinking first and third at that point.”
Both Raimondo and Silverhardt said it was an ugly win, but the coach added that “we’ll take it” at 1-2.
Silverhardt said that as the final play unfolded, he thought fellow captain Alex Bennet, who was on deck, would have a chance to end the game.
“I knew (the throw) was going (to second), so I was just hustling down the baseline to make sure I didn’t get rolled up in a double play,” Silverhardt said. “I was thinking Alex was going to get a shot at the walk-off.”
The Bulldogs actually defeated O’Neill last season and that game went to extra innings as well. Irvington played two extra-inning games in the tournament last season en route to the title and added one more on Wednesday.
“Kind of our thing here. Three in a row,” Raimondo said.
The coach said he tried to find some information on the Section 9 team from this season, but could not. Still, Irvington beat the somewhat unfamiliar opponent and earned a spot in the championship game against Briarcliff on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. O’Neill will face Ossining in the consolation game at 1:30 p.m.
The Bulldogs will have to go through the Bears to win a third straight tournament championship, and Silverhardt said they cannot be fazed by the host team.
“Supposedly they’re supposed to be a very good team this year, but we’re not really thinking about that,” Silverhardt said. “We’re just going to come out tomorrow, play hard and hopefully we get the win.”