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Erie Bud takes the title

Lil Magill’s Erie Bud wins First Ward Falcon Club tournament

OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen Erie Bud relief pitcher Duane Weiler follows through on a pitch during the seventh inning of the championship game of the 43rd annual First Ward Falcon Club Men’s Fastpitch Tournament on Sunday at Promenschenkel Stadium in Dunkirk.

Michal Holobradek is a long way from home, but you never would’ve guessed it with the way he performed in the circle on Sunday afternoon.

The 20 year old Czech Republic native pitched five innings of shutout ball in the championship of the 43rd annual First Ward Falcon Club Men’s Fastpitch Tournament to lead Lil Magill’s Erie Bud team to a 3-1 victory over IAC Braves, to earn a second straight title for Erie Bud.

“It was so cool. A cool weekend,” said Holobradek. “I enjoyed it.”

Much like their winning pitcher, Erie Bud had a long journey to the title this time around. The journey began with two games on Saturday, then followed by the first game on Sunday with a start time of 8 a.m. When it was all said and done, Erie Bud capped off a perfect tournament record with a win over the IAC Braves, who knocked out Dunkirk Fastpitch II on Sunday afternoon in the semifinal.

“We did very well. We played some good ball and got great pitching this weekend,” said Erie Bud coach Merlin High. “Overall, I thought we did a very good job.”

OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen Erie Bud — sponsored by Lil Magill’s in Fredonia — celebrates after a 3-1 victory over the IAC Braves in the championship game.

Erie Bud has been a regular at the First Ward Falcon Club tournament, which helped their players and coaches know what to expect with the weekend experience.

“It’s always a good tournament. We’ve been coming here for 6-7 years now … we come every year,” said High. “It’s a well-run tournament. … We always enjoy coming here.”

After a slow start, Erie Bud finally got to IAC Braves pitcher Steve McNaughton in the middle innings, putting three runs up on the board. Erie Bud’s coaches were impressed with the opposing pitcher, McNaughton, a Canadian who recently competed in a tournament in British Columbia, according to an IAC Braves teammate.

“The last guy we faced (McNaughton) threw well,” said High. “I was happy we faced a guy like that.”

After five shutout innings, Holobradek turned the ball over to Duane Weiler to close out the victory. He did just that, finishing off the 3-1 victory to earn another tournament title.

Erie Bud — like many of the teams in the tournament — was impacted by the weather on Saturday. Weiler said that other than the 8 a.m. start on Sunday, it was not something the team wasn’t prepared for.

“The only difference (the weather) made was that we had to play at 8:00 instead of 11:00, but you have that,” said Weiler. “The elements are part of what you work through to play ball. We’re used to that, to a certain point.”

A rainy Saturday wasn’t enough to cool down Erie Bud in the tournament. The team finished undefeated at 6-0, after outscoring opponents 22-1 on Saturday, prior to Sunday’s run through the rest of the competition.

“It was a good tournament,” said Weiler. “There was some good, solid competition. It was hot, of course, but they always do a good job of keeping the fields nice. I’d come back in a heartbeat.”

The newcomer in the circle surely helped make the experience this weekend even better for Erie Bud.

“I’m playing softball for the first time in the U.S. this summer,” said Holobradek. When asked about his individual performance, Holobradek smiled and said, “It’s getting better and better every week. I am happy with me.”

His teammates and coaches certainly must be, as well.

Erie Bud competes next in a tournament next weekend in Elkland, PA.

Twitter: @bradencarmen

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