North Collins holds on to claim Class D title, 7-4
JAMESTOWN — For the past four years, No. 1 North Collins Eagles and the No. 3 Brocton Bulldogs have played close, exciting playoff games. Today, the game lived up to the expectations of both teams as the North Collins Eagles prevailed, 7-4, to win the Section VI Class D title.
North Collins jumped out to an early lead, claiming four runs in the first inning. Dylon Mercado led off with a single. After Dylan Winter reached on an error, and Brandon Zielinski was hit by a pitch, Tanner Loretto came through with a two-RBI single to give the Eagles the lead. Later in the inning, Harley Mehnert came through with a two run single to give North Collins a 4-0 lead. “We were prepared and came out ready to play,” said North Collins coach Paul Kellner. “We did what we needed to do offensively at the start.”
North Collins (15-5, 8-2) kept up its great hitting in the second, adding three more runs to the Eagles lead. Trevor Mercado began the rally with a single up the middle. After older brother Dylon Mercado’s sacrifice bunt advanced Trevor to second and a hit batter, Zielinski came up with a two-RBI triple. Loretto followed with an RBI triple of his own to give North Collins a 7-0 lead.
The Brocton Bulldogs (12-6, 8-2) slowly chipped away at their deficit by scoring runs during the middle innings. In the fourth inning, Jordan Krystofiak got the first hit of the game with a hard hit single. After Ronald Brown and Gabe Rosas walked, Derrick Burns got Brocton on the board with a two run single.
Brocton recorded another run in the fifth inning. Charlie Rexford led off with a single.
Garrett McFadden then bunted him to second base. Krystofiak contributed with his second single of the day. With runner on second and third with one out, Ronald Brown hit a deep fly ball to left center field that Nathan Turnbull caught running into the wall. Rexford scored on the play, but Turnbull made another great play to follow by gunning down Krystofiak trying to advance to third. “Nathan made the game changing play of the day,” said Kellner. “He changed the perspective and momentum of the game. If he did not catch that ball, Brocton would have scored two runs on the play and had a runner at third. That play gave us what we needed to finish the game.”
Brocton added another run in the sixth inning. Burns hit a triple to right field and ended up scoring on a wild pitch. That would be as close as Brocton came to North Collins with the Eagles winning by three. “We have a young team and were very nervous,” said Brocton coach Rob Fetterick. “Our bats got hot and we were eventually able to settle in. We have been down before and were able to come back. These kids believe in their abilities.”
Trevor Mercado was the winning pitcher for North Collins, pitching five strong innings giving up just three runs on four hits and five walks while recording three strikeouts. Zielinski entered in relief, pitching two innings giving up one run on one hit and one walk while getting his lone strikeout to end the game. “Trevor pitched well for us,” stated Kellner. “He was composed and threw quality pitches early on. During the fourth and fifth inning, he was a little rattled. Then it was time to turn to Brandon and he closed the door for us.”
Brocton pitcher Brown pitched a great effort in defeat. He gave up eight hits during the six innings while giving up two free passes and striking out for batters. After the third inning, Brown faced the minimum number of batters possible. “Ronald was tight early on,” said Fetterick. “Later in the game, he was able to find his control throwing strikes. Ron is young along with most of our team. This team shows a lot of heart, never giving up and playing to the last out of the game.”
Krystofiak and Burns had the only multiple hit games for Brocton, while Burns posted the only extra base hit of the game.
According to Fetterick, “These players are hungry for the title and will come back strong next year. We lose two great seniors who have really helped this team mature, but these kids will look at the red patch all year and I am sure will be motivated to do better next year maximizing the great abilities that they have.”
The entire North Collins offense contributed today as every player in the lineup reached base. Loretto had the only multiple hit game for the Eagles. Loretto and Zielinski each blasted a triple.
After losing two hard fought battles in the championship game to Westfield the past two years, North Collins got over that hurdle with all the hard work and dedication paying off. “I am elated,” exclaimed Kellner. “We have been here a lot and have not won that many. I am happy for these seniors. They have been part of this program for a long time. Our senior captain Dylan Winter has really done a great job leading by example keeping the kids up and motivated throughout all the ups and downs during the season.”
According to four-year starter Dylan Winter, “We have worked hard at this for years, each day in practice and each game, trying to improve. We came into the league focusing on one game at a time. This is a great effort by the entire team. We could not have done it without everyone here. They have all contributed in some way and that is what makes us a strong team. This is a great accomplishment”
North Collins will play in the Far West Regional next Saturday in Batavia. With a win, North Collins would make their first trip to states in the programs history.