DEPEW - After being shut down by Depew's defense in the Section 6 varsity basketball playoffs, Dunkirk's Kevin Holmes got his revenge Friday afternoon at Dawson Field, in Depew, as the senior hurler tossed a complete-game, scattering five hits to help the No. 3 Marauders past the No. 2 Wildcats, 4-3, in Section 6 Class B-1 semifinal baseball action.
"I certainly know that basketball has been his life," Dunkirk coach Frank Jagoda said. "I'm sure it left a little bit of a bad taste in his mouth to lose to Depew, so I'm sure this was probably extra special for him."
Holmes allowed a run in the bottom of the first and two unearned runs in the bottom of the third, before retiring 14 of the last 15 hitters he faced, striking out seven and walking one.
OBSERVER Photo by Gib Snyder III
Dunkirk’s Kevin Holmes delivers a pitch during Friday’s Section 6 Class B-1 semifinal against Depew, at Dawson Field, in Depew. Dunkirk won the game, 4-3.
"He stayed consistent," Depew head coach Robert Parry noted of what made Holmes successful on Friday. "He was in the strike zone and he kept the ball low. He didn't mix his pitches that much, but he was consistently hitting his spots, he wasn't getting deep into counts and he was throwing first-pitch strikes, which is always good thing for a pitcher."
Holmes didn't just lend his skills to his duties on the mound, as he helped his own cause at the plate by going 2 for 4, including a double and two RBIs.
"What can you say? He's never been in this situation ever in his life, to be in such a huge game," Jagoda said. "And not only that, but did he come to play at the plate too? He was outstanding at the plate. He just dominated the game from the mound and at the plate."
Tied 3-3 heading into the top of the sixth inning, Dunkirk was able to scratch out the eventual game-winning run on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Clayton Cieslewicz. Kevin Burns opened the frame with a double to the left-center field gap and was pushed to third on Brandon Torrance's third sacrifice bunt of the game. Cieslewicz then sent a fly ball to left field that was deep enough for Burns to tag up on.
"We were going to bunt him one time and we decided not too," Jagoda said of Cieslewicz. "But what a lift for him to get a fly ball to knock in the final run."
The Marauders opened the scoring in the top of the first, as Holmes delivered a two-run single. Burns - who finished the game 3 for 3 - led off the frame with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt off the bat of Torrance, that was misplayed by Depew pitcher Sean Driscoll, leaving Torrance at first base. Burns was then retired on a fielder's choice off the bat of Cieslewicz, before a walk to Alex Kubera loaded the bases. Ryan Ruiz went down swinging for the second out, setting up Holmes with a chance to give his team the early lead.
"Our motto is get off the bus and play ball and we've been doing it all year," Jagoda said. "We've only had seven home games, so we get off the bus and we're ready to play some ball."
The Wildcats fought back in the bottom of the opening inning as Aaron Ertel, who played a pivotal role in Depew's upset of Dunkirk in the Class B-1 basketball quarterfinals, came through with an RBI single that chased home Josh Martin.
The Marauders, as successful teams do, bounced right back in the top of the second, scoring a run on a bases-loaded walk issued to Cieslewicz, building their lead back to two at 3-1.
"It's always good to answer back," Jagoda said. "It's always good."
The Wildcats took advantage of a sloppy defensive effort by the Marauders' defense in the third inning as they scored a pair of unearned runs to tie the game 3-all.
"In a game like this, you have to take advantage of everything you can get," Parry said. "We had an opportunity to score a couple of runs that I think we should have capitalized on that we didn't. Whether that won or lost us the game is hard to say, but any time you get an opportunity to plate a run, whether it's a legitimate run or a mistake, you've got to take it."
From there, Holmes was on cruise control, giving his team every chance it needed to push the eventual game-winning run across home plate.
"We've been doing it all year," Jagoda said of his team's ability to manufacture runs. "Anybody who watches us knows that. And it's been very, very successful. It's a mindset for the players. When you get into a situation where your kids know what you're going to call, it makes it all the more easy."
Dunkirk will face No. 4 Olean, a 9-2 winner over No. 1 Tonawanda in the Class B-1 finals Tuesday, at Gowanda High School, at 4 p.m. In order for the Marauders to claim it's second straight Class B-1 title, they will have to get past a Huskies team that they lost to twice during CCAA Division 1 play.
"Olean has really had our number this year," Jagoda said. "But the attitude here is we get off the bus and we play ball."