FREDONIA - No. 1 Fredonia erupted for eight runs in the first inning and buried No. 5 Southwestern, 12-4, Friday in Section 6 Class B-2 baseball semifinals at Fredonia High School.
All eight first-inning runs were scored with two outs as a flyout and strikeout sandwiched Trent Thompson's single during Fredonia's first three batters.
Connor Farnham and Weston Ley followed with back-to-back singles to plate Fredonia's first run of the game, but the onslaught had just begun.
Southwestern’s Matt Martin crosses home plate while Fredonia catcher Zack Buckley awaits a throw during Friday’s Section 6 Class B-2 semifinal game.
Photo by Roger Coda
Jude Gardner was hit by a 1-2 pitch from Southwestern starter Tyler Uber before Brett Lutz came through with a two-run single. After Cam Voss walked, A.J. Riforgiat delivered a two-run single of his own to push the lead to 5-0.
"It's great to get production from the bottom of the lineup," Fredonia coach Vince Gullo said. "They've done that all year."
Back at the top of the order, Nick Hart slapped an RBI single that was misplayed in left field, which allowed two runs to score. Hart came around to score on Thompson's RBI single - his second hit of the inning.
In the first inning, the Hillbillies sent 12 batters to the plate, collected seven hits, scored eight runs and made Uber throw 40 pitches in 88-degree heat.
"It was nice because Uber was throwing some heat," Gullo added. "We had some good at-bats."
Uber settled down nicely and allowed just one run over the next three innings.
"Tyler's a gusty pitcher," Southwestern coach Darin Beckerink said of Uber. "He's been a workhorse for me now for two years. I just wish we could have went out on better terms for him."
With Uber back on track, the Trojans bats came alive in the middle innings as well.
Southwestern began chipping away at the lead with a pair of runs of in the third inning when Noah Weinstein's single scored Kyle Radack and Jake Swan.
The Trojans added another pair of runs in the fourth on a two-out, two-strike, two-run single from No. 9 hitter Nick Baglia that cut the lead to 8-4.
"It's tough when you're down 8-0, but I thought our kids came back well," Beckerink added. "You can't make mistakes and expect to beat a good team and Fredonia's a good team. That's it."
That's all the offense Southwestern was able to muster against Thompson, who pitched six strong innings and allowed four runs on four hits and two walks. Five of his seven strikeouts were on called third strikes.
"Trent's the ace," Gullo reiterated. "He's the stud of our team. Sometimes he's a little fancy. It might look good, but it doesn't always work. When he went right after someone, he got the outs."
"I didn't expect us to struggle as bad as we did," Beckerink admitted. "I thought we would put the ball in play a little more than we did. We gave up eight runs in the first inning. That's the biggest thing."
Fredonia tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, highlighted by Thompson's two-run single. In addition to earning the win on the mound, Thompson collected three hits, three RBIs and scored a pair of runs.
The Hillbillies could have broken the game wide open if not for a marvelous play at shortstop by Radack in the sixth inning.
Fredonia loaded the bases with no outs when pinch-hitter Matt Coyle squared up a pitch and sent a line drive towards left-center field. Radack timed his leap perfectly and snagged the ball at the height of his jump. A step on second base completed the double play.
"Radack's a young kid but he plays well," Beckerink said. "He could be one of the better shortstops in the league, he just needs to buckle down and go for it. That was an outstanding play. He's made outstanding plays all season long."
Farnham relieved Thompson for the seventh inning and slammed the door shut with a 1-2-3 inning, including a pair of strikeouts.
Peter Trathen was the only Southwestern hitter to record two hits with a double in the second inning and a single in the fourth.
In addition to Thompson's three base knocks, Hart and Riforgiat each had a pair of hits for the Hillbillies.
With the loss, Southwestern's season comes to an end.
"Overall I'm happy with the kids," Beckerink concluded. "We'll continue to build and go from here."
For the Hillbillies, the win earns them a date with No. 2 Roy-Hart for the Section 6 Class B-2 championship on Tuesday at Gowanda Central School.