Zielinski complete game leads NC over Frewsburg

Photo by Scott Kindberg North Collins pitcher Brandon Zielinski delivers to the plate Saturday against Frewsburg at the Robert H. Jackson Sports Complex.

FREWSBURG — Brandon Zielinski has owned Frewsburg his entire high school career.

As a sophomore, the North Collins right-hander threw a pair of complete games and allowed just two earned runs while striking out 11 in a pair of Eagles’ victories.

Last year, the 6-foot, 170-pounder beat the Bears two more times.

On Saturday morning, Zielinski was at it again.

The North Collins ace needed just 77 pitches to throw a complete-game four-hitter as the Eagles opened up CCAA East 2 play with a 5-1 win, in the process handing Frewsburg its first loss of the season.

“He was sharp. … He was just on and we played good defense behind him,” North Collins coach Scott Gill said of his starter. “We got some hits … on to tomorrow.”

Zielinski struck out four, walked one and allowed just a run as the defending Section VI Class D and Far West Regional champions took early control of the league.

“I thought we handled him just fine today. I was proud of our at-bats,” Frewsburg coach Jay Grann said. “We hit the ball harder than they did today. The thing about him is he’s around the plate and he’s not giving free passes. He keeps his team in it and throws a lot of strikes.”

The Eagles jumped on top early, taking advantage of some sloppy Bears defense. Tanner Loretto led off by reaching on an error and Nick Woronowski followed by reaching on a single that fell into shallow right field as Frewsburg’s Ryan Schrecengost and Jack Yost collided trying to make the catch.

Zielinski helped himself by singling up the middle to score Loretto, and Woronowski also scored on the play when the ball was misplayed in center field. North Collins capped its three-run first when Zielinski scored on Anthony Novoa’s single to right field.

“We were a little lackadaisical. We weren’t ready to strap it on from ‘Play ball,'” Grann said. “That’s going to be an emphasis going forward.”

The Bears answered in the bottom half of the frame as Reid Bjork led off with a single, stole second and scored on Trent Gray’s RBI single to left field.

“We knew that they hit the ball hard,” Gill said of the Bears. “They put up some runs in their first five games.”

The Eagles got their three-run lead back in the third as David Overhoff reached on a fielder’s choice, went to third on Novoa’s single to right field and scored on a passed ball.

Gray, the Frewsburg starter, was effective when his team didn’t give North Collins free outs, throwing 6-plus innings of four-hit ball, striking out five and walking two while hitting three batters.

“I’m proud of Trent. He battled,” Grann said. “It wasn’t his fault in that first inning. We should’ve had the first two batters of the game out, but that’s just baseball. He threw well today.”

The Eagles added their final run in the top of the seventh as Loretto was hit by a pitch, went to second on Woronowski’s single to left field, moved to third on an error and scored on Overhoff’s sacrifice fly to center field.

“We knew this was a big game,” Gill said. “We stress one day at a time and on the bus ride here, the boys knew what we had to do.”

Zielinski completed his masterpiece by retiring the Bears in order on 10 pitches in the seventh, the final two on strikeouts.

“We stress working quickly. The defense loves playing behind somebody who’s going to work fast,” Gill said. “That’s what he was today. Job well done.”

The teams are scheduled to meet again Wednesday, May 2 in North Collins and with Zielinski’s success rate against the Bears, it would seem Gill would do everything in his power to line his ace up for that start.

“We don’t look ahead of ourselves. Coming into this year, we knew that going to states last year we didn’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves,” Gill said. “We stress one day at a time, we take care of our business and we’re tough to beat.”

With Frewsburg dropping down to Class D this season, the two could also meet in a potential Section VI playoff setting.

“We aren’t trying to focus on any one team. We’re trying to just get better ourselves,” Grann said. “We’ll play whoever is on the diamond across from us.”

NOTES: Schrecengost left the game after the first-inning collision and did not return. … Woronowski and Novoa each had two hits for North Collins (4-0, 1-0) while Mark Mammoser doubled for Frewsburg (5-1, 1-1).