Fredonia tops Alden, 4-0, for Class B title

OBSERVER Photos by Gib Snyder III Above, the Fredonia Hillbillies celebrate yet another overall Class B championship in Gowanda on Saturday. Below, Reid Tarnowski lays down a bunt in the Hillbillies’ 4-0 win over Alden.

GOWANDA — The No. 3 Fredonia Hillbillies scored three runs in the top of the second and that was more than enough for Derrick Walters, as the junior hurler tossed a complete-game two-hitter while striking out 15 and walking one in the Hillbillies’ 4-0 win over the No. 2 Alden Bulldogs in the overall Section VI Class B baseball title game Saturday afternoon at Gowanda High School.

“He throws well, and when he’s confident and has command of his pitches, he’s light’s out,” Fredonia head coach Vince Gullo said. “And the last few games he’s been light’s out. That’s what we want to see out of him and to come through on this stage is amazing.”

Walters was coming off a complete-game effort this past Monday against Tonawanda in the Class B2 semifinals and was even better Saturday afternoon.

“His body language was phenomenal and he’s got a lot of confidence in his catcher, in his pitching coach (Charlie) LaDuca and his defense,” Gullo said. “He had his pitches working (Saturday), he was comfortable, he was relaxed out there and he threw very well. He was in command of every pitch.”

Walters allowed just two singles — one to Bryan Cybulski and the other to Jesse Foster — while retiring 12 in a row at one point between the second and sixth innings and 17 of the final 18 he faced on the day.

“Derrick’s been a No. 2 or No. 3 (pitcher), but when he pitches like this, he’s a No. 1,” Gullo said.

“Reid (Tarnowski) has been our most consistent pitcher and he’s been light’s out, but to get this type of effort from Derrick at this time of year has been great. We took care of him early in the season and were building his confidence and it seemed to work, because he was in complete command. And for a junior, that’s pretty impressive.”

Fredonia threatened on offense early and often and after it failed to score with two runners on and no outs in the first, Seth Schrader made sure the Hillbillies would not squander another golden opportunity.

Drew Coniglio singled and advanced to second on an error ahead of a walk to Cole Tippens to start the second-inning rally. Then, after Tyler Winchell grounded out, Schrader lifted a high fly ball over the center fielder’s head for a two-run double. Reid Tarnowski followed with a run-scoring single to push the Hillbillies’ lead to 3-0.

“We’ve been stranding a lot of runners the last few games and we did it again (Saturday),” Gullo said. “But with Seth (Schrader) and Reid (Tarnowski) at the top of the order moving runners and punching guys home, that’s what we need. And I blew it a couple of times early in the game when I should have bunted and I didn’t. I let the team down, but those guys picked me up by getting a couple of runs (in the second) inning.”

From there it was all Walters and Bulldogs’ starter Nate Reger, who allowed four runs on seven hits while striking out six and walking two in a losing effort. For the Hillbillies, who plated their final run in the sixth on a single by Ryan Mroczka, it is their second straight overall title, third in four years and eighth in 13 years.

“This was the seniors 20th playoff game since their freshman year,” Gullo said. “So they’ve been through this a lot. We live for games like this. We’d rather play a nail-biter against a real strong opponent and they rose to the occasion. It’s great to see these guys excited, but unfortunately they don’t get too excited when we win anymore, but they have so much class that they handle it very well.”

Up next for Fredonia is a trip to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s Class B Farwest Regional, which will be played against either Hornell, or familiar foe Livonia, at a Section VI site that has yet to be determined, on Saturday, June 3.

“We have five more practices now and we’ll prepare,” Gullo said. “But we need every player chipping in, because we don’t have one dominant player. But I think that’s our strong suit, that everyone can do their job. We’re going to enjoy this one for a few days.”

NOTES: Schrader finished 2 for 3 with a double and two RBIs… Coniglio added two hits in the win… Tarnowski was 2 for 3 with a pair of singles and an RBI.