In 1968, the most famous game in the history of Ivy League Football pitted the undefeated squads of Harvard and Yale against each other in the season’s final game. Late in the contest, Harvard trailed by 16 points with just 42 seconds left, but rallied for a tie so miraculous, that the next day’s headline in the Harvard Crimson read, “Harvard Beats Yale 29-29.”
On Saturday afternoon, the baseball team trailed Brooklyn’s Grand Street, 5-8, with two outs and nobody on base in the game’s final inning. According to a win probability calculator that compiles Major League Baseball game data from 1903-2021, Grand Street’s win probability in that situation was 99.47%. With their backs against the wall, the Bears found a reservoir of belief that helped them beat the visitors, 8-8.
The Wolves got on the board in the top of the 1st inning when a leadoff walk came around to score following another walk and a wild pitch. Jojo Franco bounced back to strike out the final two batters and limit the damage. The Bears knotted it up in their half of the inning when Tyler Jones walked, moved to third on a bloop single by Logan Charboneau, and scored after Franco laced a double down the right field line.
Grand Street struck again in the top of the 2nd, again without the benefit of a hit, when a leadoff walk came around on a pair of wild pitches and a sac fly. The Brook took their first lead in the bottom of the 3rd when Jones led off with an infield single, Charboneau walked, and Franco crushed a three-run home run to dead center to vault the Brook into a 4-2 advantage.
The Wolves chipped into their deficit in the 4th with a single, a productive ground out, and another single, but the Bears maintained their thin 4-3 margin until a disastrous 6th in which three walks, two infield singles, a sac fly, an error, and a ground rule double left the Bears trailing 4-8 with just six outs to go. They got something cooking in their half when Sebastian Perez walked on four pitches, Jayden Stroman reached base when the 2nd baseman and shortstop collided on a pop up, and Jones bunted safely to load the bases with nobody out. But all the Bears could muster was a Charboneau walk that forced in a run before the Wolves escaped further damage, to the delight of their reliever who leered at the Bears’ dugout while beating his chest.
Perez gave the Brook some life when he used just five pitches to induce a trio of ground outs and give the Bears a chance to come back. The energy in the dugout was strong heading into the last of the 7th, but a pair of strikeouts appeared to extinguish any hope as the Wolves win probability surged to 99.47%. Perez followed with a ground ball to the third baseman who had a chance to end the game, but instead overthrew first base. A pair of wild pitches moved Perez to third and he came home on an infield single by Stroman. After a stolen base put the freshman in scoring position, Jones stroked a line drive to left-center to push home Stroman and cut the deficit to 7-8. Another stolen base put Jones 180 feet away from tying it up and with the game on the line, Seth Laureano came up with a huge hit, stroking a line drive into right field to plate Jones with the tying run. The inning ended with the game tied, 8-8, and with game two of a doubleheader looming, the teams decided to end it there, but judging by the euphoria in the home dugout and the vitriol coming from the away dugout, it was clear that ties are not viewed equally.
In game two, the Wolves again lit up the board first behind a walk and two errors in the 1st, but Jacob Lippe coolly shrugged off the extra outs he needed get and ended the inning with a flyout to center. The Brook responded with a seven-run bottom half behind a Laureano sac fly, a Franco single, a Perez two-run double, a two-run E9, and a Stroman line drive.
After Lippe threw up a zero in the 2nd, the Bears added another run in their half when Laureano walked and later came home on an E9. The Bears cruised from there to a 10-3 win.
The Brook is back in action this afternoon in a non-league match-up at Long Island Lutheran.