Trent Thompson tossed six strong innings Monday for Fredonia as the Hillbillies (17-0, 11-0) accomplished three objectives with their 18-0 drubbing of arch-rival Dunkirk (8-10, 5-7) during CCAA Division 1 baseball action.
"Trent, in warm-ups, he had his pop (on the fastball)," Fredonia coach Vince Gullo said. "He told me he was 100 percent for the first time in a year and a half. And I liked the look in his eyes (Monday)."
Thompson allowed no runs on just three hits - a clean single by Ryan Ruiz in the top of the third, an infield single by Juliam Fred in the fourth and a bunt single by Edwin Gomez in the fifth - while striking out seven and walking three.
OBSERVER?Photo by Roger Coda
Fredonia’s Jarrod Burmaster throws out a baserunner at first base during Monday’s CCAA?Division 1 high school baseball game against Dunkirk.
"Trent's a good pitcher," Dunkirk coach Frank Jagoda said. "We faced him last year and I guess he got a little bit of redemption on us this year, because I thought we hit him pretty hard last year. He had a live fastball (Monday) and he was hitting the corners. He did an excellent job. We had some pretty good swings, but he battled and he gave them six strong innings."
Not only did the Hillbillies defeat their rivals, they also set a new school record for consecutive wins to start a season while winning the Division 1 title outright for the second straight year. They tied Dunkirk for the top spot in 2011.
"They've talked about it more lately," Gullo said of the team's school-record winning streak. "And it's neat that they beat a record that's been on the books for a long time. I couldn't be more proud of them and Coach (Pete) Criscione couldn't be more proud of them. And you know what, it's nice to be able to add another ball to the shelf."
The 17 straight wins broke the 1985 team's record of 16 straight wins to start a season. Gullo was a senior on the 1985 team that was coached by Pete Criscione, and has now lived through the Hillbillies' two best starts in school history.
"That's the feeling that is just awesome," Gullo said. "I know what these guys are going through and I remember my senior year like it was yesterday. It was a special, magical year and we were so good. The bonds that we formed and the friendships ... Just to know that they're experiencing the same things that I experienced, that's what high school sports is all about."
The Hillbillies had little trouble making contact and scoring runs on Monday as they pounded out 12 hits.
"We came out of the gates swinging in that terrible wind," Gullo noted. "And we did our job."
After Thompson worked around a lead-off walk in the top of the first, the Hillbillies gave their senior ace all the run support he needed, as they scored seven runs - none of which were earned - on four hits while taking advantage of a pair of walks and three errors.
Jude Gardner and Nick Hart had the big blows of the inning as each chipped in a two-run single while Cody Smith added a run-scoring single of his own.
"We've got to get away from these big innings where we're just letting teams beat us after one (inning)," Jagoda said. "It's getting late in the season and we can't keep beating a dead horse. I'm saying the same things over and over."
After sending 11 batters to the plate in the first, the Hillbillies added two runs in the second, two in the third, one in the fourth, five in the fifth and one in the sixth for the 18-0 win.
"It started from the first out of the game," Jagoda said. "I don't care what players you put on the field, you've got a program where you're picking what you feel are the best players from the group of players that tried out. You have to have faith in them, and you have to trust in them that they can be able to play the game of baseball."
The Marauders' defense finished with 10 errors and gave little support to senior starter Kevin Burns, who worked the first three innings, allowing 11 runs - none of which were earned - on six hits while striking out three and walking three.
"Kevin's a battler," Jagoda said. "He will always battle and I support him 100 percent."
Despite their troubles Monday, Jagoda believes his team has it in them to get better.
"I firmly believe that over the next week, we're going to be able to work on (making plays) and get better," Jagoda said "If we don't we're going to be out in one game next week in the playoffs, because we cannot play the way we did (Monday)."
Although the win kept Fredonia's perfect season alive, Gullo knows there are still things his team needs to work on.
"We had some base running gaffes," Gullo said. "Defensively we have to get our signals down pat. We gave up a few extra bases. There's always room for improvement. That's the best part about this team, they know the mistakes before (the coaches) have to point them out. And they want to get better."
NOTES: ... Hart finished 4 for 5 with two runs scored and four RBIs ... Zach Buckley had two hits and scored two runs for the Hillbillies ...Matt Coyle had two hits, scored four runs and had an RBI in the win ... Fredonia will be back in action today when it faces Allegany-Limestone in the completion of a game that was suspended due to bad weather on Friday. The Hillbillies lead 1-0 in the bottom of the second.
Gowanda 11, Southwestern 1
JAMESTOWN - The Gowanda Panthers (6-6, 9-8) scored five runs in the first inning to spark a big day offensively in an 11-1 victory over the Southwestern Trojans (1-10).
Cole Dailey got the offense rolling with a two-run, bases-loaded double in the first inning.
"We have been in this situation multiple times lately and haven't been able to get that big hit," Gowanda coach Tim Smith said. "That really set the tone for us to break it open even though it was the first inning. We scored three more runs in the second inning which was exactly what I wanted to see. We did not let up."
Matt Kruszka was the winning pitcher as he went six strong innings with four hits, two strikeouts and just one walk.
"He is such a young kid, he is not going to overpower anybody," Smith said. "He hit spots. Our defense knew they were going to put it in play and they made the plays. We had a couple minor mistakes, but it was a complete game by everybody."
Ryan Boutelle led the Panthers offense with three hits while Walker Cygan had two hits. Joey Kruszka and Josh Mitchell each had two hits and combined for five RBIs. Justin Grimm also had three hits in the win.