Brocton advances to Class D Championship with win over the Eagles, 7-0

OBSERVER Photo by Ron Szot Above, Brocton baseball players congratulate each other on advancing to the Class D final this Saturday.

BROCTON — The Brocton Bulldogs baseball team took a long time to get going after receiving a first round bye in the Class D playoffs. After a shaky start, the Bulldogs potent offense was on full display on Thursday night as the Bulldogs took down the North Collins Eagles 7-0 in the Section VI Class D semifinal baseball game.

“Despite the long layoff of over a week, our guys have been working hard putting in a lot of time and effort,” Brocton head coach Rob Fetterick stated. “It is easy to be the coach when kids work 110%. It showed today as they started slow, but kept calm and stuck to the plan of getting the ball in play.”

North Collins had the first chance to score n the first inning as Tony Puckhaber singled and stole second. However, he was left on second as the Eagles were unable to bring him around. Brocton had a quality chance in the second inning as back-to-back batters reached as a result of an error by the third baseman. However, Derek Overhoff made a solid play on a groundball to end the threat.

After Brocton struck out the side in the top of the third, the Bulldogs were able to manufacture the first run of the game in the bottom half. With two outs, Gabe Morello walked and advanced to second on a passed ball. Derrick Burns came through with an RBI single as the ball went into right field.

“We knew that they were a team that plays on turf and it is different to go on the grass,” Fetterick added. “We were able to make plays and do the small things right, taking advantage of those opportunities that came. It was a huge hit by Derrick to be able to put us on the board.”

North Collins had a chance to tie the game in the fourth inning as Tony Puckhaber was on second as a result of being hit by a pitch and a wild pitch. Gabe Morello made a great catch in right field on a fly ball and a perfect relay to third to throw out the runner who hesitated, which ended the inning.

Brocton would keep that momentum going with four runs in the bottom half of the inning. Michael Steward started the rally as he reached on another error by the third baseman. Blaise Miller moved Steward up 90 feet from a sacrifice bunt. After Caleb Chelton reached on an error and Dakota Planty received a free pass to load the bases, leadoff hitter Jordan Krystofiak came through with a two run double. Morello followed with a two run single.

“Our players were able to pull the game open with hard hit shots down the line,” stated Fetterick. “We have spent a lot of time working on the fundamental concept of baserunning as we try to put pressure on the other team. It was tough today with a lefty pitcher, but we still made some great aggressive plays on the bases.”

The Bulldogs were able to add two insurance runs in the seventh. After Riley Rivera walked, Ronald Brown contributed with an RBI double. Later in the inning, Brown would score on the Eagles sixth error of the game.

Krystofiak went the distance for the Bulldogs, pitching seven scoreless innings. He only gave up four hits without a walk while fanning 12.

“Jordan came into this season with not a lot of pitching experience,” Fetterick added. “We talked at the beginning of the season as there are great genes in the family with his brother pitching. He has learned how to be a leader and how to pitch. Hats off to him on a great game and the defense behind him to make solid plays without committing an error.”

Christian Loretto gave a valiant effort in defeat, giving up five runs — one earned — in five innings of work from five hits and five walks while striking out six. David Gullo pitched the final inning in relief, surrendering two runs — one earned — from a hit and a walk.

The entire Bulldogs lineup was successful at connecting with the ball, while Burns was the lone player with a multiple hit game. Brown and Krystofiak each had an extra base hit with a double.

“The bottom of the order has struggled this season,” Fetterick added. “We changed a few smaller ways of doing things as the season progressed, and have shown improvement with this being our best game offensively top to bottom.”

Overhoff led the Eagles offense as the lone player with two hits. The Eagles did not record an extra be hit during the game.

North Collins coach Scott Gill declined to comment after the game.

Gullo, Michael Warsaw, Aaron Conklin, Jacob Puckhaber, and Tyler Mathis all played their final game for the Eagles as they will all graduate next month.

“It has been an interesting, but weird season,” said North Collins senior captain David Gullo. “We have had a lot of ups and downs from hitting the ball well and putting the ball in play to making multiple errors. It was a fun season with a great group that worked hard and I am proud to be the captain of this group of individuals.”

Brocton will play at Diethrick Park in Jamestown on Saturday at 12 p.m. against Clymer, a team that Brocton has played twice this season.

“We played two great games against them this year, coming out on top in close battles,” Fetterick added. “They say it is hard to beat a team three times so we expect to have a great competition against a talented team. It is great to see that our division is doing so well with both teams coming from the west.”